To say that this tree can handle less-than-desirable living conditions is a bit of an understatement. Spartan Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan') is so durable that it actually flourishes in harsh environments where other plants don't even stand a chance. You wouldn't know that by simply looking at it because Spartan Juniper has another endearing quality '– its luxuriant evergreen foliage. And the icing on the cake is that you can grow this stately tree in only 5 feet of horizontal space!
Narrow Form for Compact Yards
A design challenge of today's smaller landscapes is finding plants that won't overwhelm their surroundings. If you have a compact lot, your search for a striking evergreen tree ends here '– Spartan Juniper is a super choice. It has the height you want (15-20 feet) with a narrow width (4-5 feet) that leaves plenty of room for your other plants. And if you do have a large landscape, Spartan offers even more design options. Regardless of the size of your yard and garden, you'll love growing this lovely trouble-free evergreen because of its durability and versatility.
Densely Packed Foliage Creates a Solid Green Screen
Spartan Juniper easily forms a green screen to eliminate any undesirable views you'd like to block. Its fast-growing nature, tight foliage, and long-skirted branches create the ultimate combination for hiding unattractive features in the landscape. And when we say "long-skirted," we mean that the branches grow all the way to Spartan Juniper's base like a long skirt that brushes the ground. So you'll have no gaps at the bottom of your green screen for even a glimpse of the view behind it. And you won't be able to see through the branches because of this tree's thick foliage. When you're not planting Spartan Juniper as a screen, you can space trees 5 feet apart, but you'll want to space them more closely if you want to create a solid wall. For a single-row screen, space trees 3 feet apart. If you want a denser screen, plant two rows of staggered plants with the rows 3 feet apart and the trees in each row spaced 4 feet apart.
A Taller, Living Alternative to a Privacy Fence
Homeowner associations' by-laws and some municipal codes put limits on fencing heights. And if you exceed these guidelines by constructing a taller fence, you'll pay a fine and/or have to remove your fence. Instead of having to comply with these restrictions, you can plant a "living fence" of Spartan Juniper trees. The trees will grow taller than the restricted height of constructed fencing, and their evergreen habit ensures the same privacy you want from a conventional wooden fence. Problem solved!
Formal Accent Tree
A well-placed Spartan Juniper tree can add a formal touch to your landscape. If you have a bare corner in your yard, plant Spartan Juniper as a vertical specimen tree and plant lower-growing perennials or annuals around it to add color. You'll instantly transform the unattractive bare corner into a garden bed that's a dramatic focal point. If you thumb through upscale home and garden design magazines, you'll often see two narrow evergreens '– one on each side of a home's entrance '– as a formal, symmetrical accent. Spartan Evergreen is the plant of choice to create this design!
Seaside and Roadside Salt Buffer
The University of Florida gives Spartan Juniper a rating of "high" for its salt tolerance. This is important if you live in a coastal region where plants are subjected to salt spray, which is a formidable challenge that many plants simply cannot overcome. If you plant a tight row of Spartan Junipers as a buffer between your landscape and the seaside, these trees can significantly protect less salt-tolerant plants. Even if you don't live near the coast, your plants may be at the mercy of road de-icing salts that can splash onto them by passing cars. These salts can burn plants or even kill them. But Spartan Juniper is a trouper '– it can shoulder the brunt of salt spray without suffering damage while protecting your other plants!
Hint: Salt "tolerant" doesn't mean salt "loving." Natural rainfall should wash salt residue off your Spartan Juniper's foliage, but if there's been a long period of no rainfall, you may want to use your garden hose to rinse off your trees.
A Valuable Windbreak
Winter winds can wreak havoc in your landscape by damaging plants and structures. Numerous universities, such as New Mexico State University, recommend planting juniper trees as windbreaks as a barrier that helps mitigate this damage. Purdue University notes a startling statistic '– an effective windbreak, constructed of evergreens, can block up to 75 percent of the force of winter winds around your house. This translates to a reduction in your heating costs of up to 25 percent!
Rule of thumb: Plant a row of Spartan Juniper trees perpendicular to prevailing winds for maximum effectiveness.
High Threshold of Drought Tolerance
Spartan Juniper is a water-efficient tree that relies on natural rainfall for irrigation. You'll need to water your newly transplanted tree during its first growing season in your landscape to help nourish its roots. But in subsequent years, you can put away the garden hose and let rainfall do the watering job for you!
Watering exception: If there is a severe drought, you'll want to water your Spartan Juniper at the rate of 1 inch per week.
Elegant Look for Patio Pots
Planted in the landscape, a mature Spartan Juniper reaches a moderate height of 15 to 20 feet, so you may think this isn't a good specimen for containers. But the size of the pot you choose will limit its growth, and it will not grow out of proportion to its container. You'll want to select a pot that's at least 18 inches in diameter to give its roots an adequate growing environment. And you may want to use a heavy pot to help keep it upright on windy days. Because of its narrow, upright growth habit, a potted Spartan Juniper gives a distinguished look to a bare patio.
Container tips: Use a packaged potting mix that's blended for containers. Even though Spartan Juniper trees are drought-tolerant when planted in the landscape, potted trees need regular watering.
Durable in Temperature Extremes
Spartan Juniper handles hot or cold temperatures with ease. It's a perennial in Zones 4 through 9, which means it tolerates temperatures from Maine to Florida! It even sails through winter weather that dips to minus 20 degrees F. Unlike other evergreens with foliage that turns bronze in extremely cold weather, Spartan Juniper retains its dark-green needles year-round.
No Significant Pest Problems
Spartan Juniper is typically unbothered by insect pests and resilient to diseases. And if you live in a rural area where hungry deer pose ongoing problems, you'll be glad to know that they don't like eating Spartan Junipers! Your plants will remain beautifully intact.
Top Pick for Spiral Topiaries
You've probably seen formal evergreen topiaries that have been pruned in a spiraling form. Spartan Juniper is one of the most sought-after plants for creating these topiaries! It responds well to shaping, and the foliage that remains after pruning creates a dense spiral. So if you decide to unleash your inner artist, begin shaping your Spartan Juniper while it's still young into an intriguing topiary that is sure to impress your guests!
Topiary tip: Before trimming your Spartan Juniper into a topiary shape, place its container on a tabletop so you won't have to bend down as you prune.
No Pruning Required
Spartan Juniper trees naturally grow into a columnar shape that doesn't require any pruning to maintain its form. Pruning is optional, unless you want to re-shape your plant or trim it into a topiary shape!
One Problem to Avoid
For all its merits '– and there are many '– we'd have to say that root rot may be Spartan Juniper's primary problem. But this is so easily avoided! You only want to plant your tree on a site that drains well '– this is a must. If the soil stays wet, particularly after heavy spring rains, Spartan Juniper is very susceptible to fungal root rot, which has the potential to kill it. If the soil in your landscape has drainage issues, find a spot that's elevated or consider constructing a simple raised bed to keep your plant above the grade of the surrounding soil.
To say that this tree can handle less-than-desirable living conditions is a bit of an understatement. Spartan Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan') is so durable that it actually flourishes in harsh environments.
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