The entire East line of our property (300′) is full of cedar (Juniper) trees. They are wonderful because they help keep the morning sun off our house and that helps to keep things cooler for a while. They offer shade for some of the herb and flower gardens from the morning sun. They provide habitat for the variety of birds that live in our area. They also provide shade for the clothes line, because the hot Texas sun will fade our clothes rather quickly otherwise.
Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
Around here, you will hear a lot of people say that the cedar (Juniper) are invasive. You will also hear them say the steal water for other trees and plants. Well, an invasive (to me) is an opportunist. It takes advantage of areas and will continue to grow and produce seedlings if the conditions are right. Back in the day when buffalo roamed our area, there were not a lot of cedar (Juniper) trees. The buffalo hoof traffic kept the cedar trees under control. Since the buffalo don’t roam here anymore the cedar trees have taken advantage of the situation and now grow everywhere.
I am not sure if the cedar trees steal water from other plants, I do know that when it rains an inch, that all the leaves living on the tree soak up that water before it hits the ground. After that inch of rain, it is completely dry underneath the cedar trees. So, if that is “stealing,” then I guess they do.
As the trees get taller and older, the bottom branches die off. Around our house, we have worked at trimming them off as they do that. The last few years we have noticed that more and more of the cedar are dieing and we find ourselves trying to come up with a plan to plant other trees amongst them to start growing and replace the cedars as they die.
You’ve probably heard the question, ” when is the best time to plant a tree?”…… answer: 10 years ago. Nothing grows real fast here, so had we been on top of this 5 years ago we would be that much more ahead of this game now. Well, we are not, so the best time to plant a tree for us is NOW.
We have four Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) in our yard. They are very established and are wonderful. One of them produced a lot of babies last year so I dug up several and potted them up to get them growing and last fall we planted four of them in the ground and they are doing really well. This spring I was able to dig up more seedlings and we will get them planted this fall. We also have a Vitex (also known as Chaste tree & VERY deer resistant) that is growing in the clump of cedar in the front yard. It does not get enough sun so it is rather leggy and scraggly, but we have taken out three cedars that were around it and it is starting to look a lot healthier now. Last Spring I found two babies under it and potted those up to get established. Last fall we planted those up near the front of the property line so that as we take out more cedar they will be growing up and provide us with some replacement trees and privacy.
This is an ongoing process. I am not able to head out with the chainsaw and trim cedar limbs or take down tress right now, so we are doing it as my husband has time. Normally, I would load the truck and take all the cuttings to the recycle place, but I just can’t do that yet either.
Several weeks ago my husband went on a trimming spree and we had 4 truck loads of cuttings that he took to recycle. On one of his trips he brought back a load of mulch. I had a plan to start planting more in the front section of our lot near the street and had picked up another Vitex and several ornamental grasses to go with a few agave babies from our neighbor. My husband dug holes and I helped him plant everything. Then I put out the paper feed sacks and we (he) covered that all with mulch. It is doing well.
You can see the area of cedar in our front yard and a few more dead trees that need to come out. You can also see the Vitex blooming (light pink) in the background.
I have plans to create some sort of berm using some of the tree trimming and cover it with dirt and plant on and around it, but that is really going to have to wait until I am completely recovered so I can take that on myself.
My husband is really starting to see the urgency of getting other things planted as he starts to see how many of our cedar are dieing. I am grateful that he has had the time to help with the trimming and planting to move things along. It is an ongoing project, but it is nice to see some progress and some things taking shape.
Are you working on any yard projects?
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