By Devin Almonte
Juniper is a shrub that people love to hate and we see if everywhere. I too, struggle with Juniper, mainly because of what we picture in our heads when we think of Juniper. It’s a fairly easy shrub to identify with its prickly branches and various shades of green and blue hues. Because it’s so easily identifiable, we are quick to notice Juniper that is unkempt, overgrown and downright sloppy. I think of a dilapidated house no longer occupied, or a homeowner who clearly doesn’t step foot out in the garden. You can’t even see the actual house anymore because the Juniper is so monstrous. With each passing day, the Juniper works to gobble up even more of the home, creating the most unsightly landscape. It’s not a pretty sight and it doesn’t make me fall in love with Juniper.
So why does everyone home seem to have some type of Juniper in their landscape when we don’t really like it? Because it is very easy to grow and care for, it doesn’t really need pruning, and they tolerate adverse conditions quite well. And it’s often the go-to plant when we have no idea what else to plant.
I want to help you like Juniper. I want to you see Juniper as more than a last resort option for your garden. Instead of hating this shrub, I want you to reconsider its purpose and usefulness. Used well, Juniper can add tremendous visual value to your garden. It’s a great choice for your garden landscape and can be absolutely breathtaking when it's done right. The problem is when we ignore our planted Juniper all together and don't plan for its appropriate placement. This is when it becomes the unwanted focal feature on your property – unkempt, overgrown, wild, and unshapely.
Juniper needs some TLC, the right placement, and the right role in your garden to be a successful addition to your landscape. While they do not really need pruning, I do recommend pruning. You need to love and care for your Juniper to keep it’s manicured and elegant appearance.
Juniper also works best when it’s not the star of the show. I believe it’s important that you use Juniper in a supporting role as opposed to the main role in your garden, just as you would view the supporting and main characters in a Broadway play. Juniper is great when it fulfills the role of supporting and highlighting the other beautiful flowers, plants, and shrubs in your garden. Without it, your garden may lose dimension and the main focal plants and flowers won’t come life as well they should.
This is the beauty of the Juniper. Giving it the right amount of attention, the right placement and the right role in your garden will bring your garden to life with remarkable impact.
Attractive evergreen with blue-tinted foliage on thick branches that spread wide across your landscape. Slow growth rate. Deer-resistant.
2-3 ft tall, 4-5 ft wide.
Prefers slightly acidic soil.
Fairly disease resistant.
All comments written above are my own opinion and thoughts as it relates to gardening.
By Devin Almonte
Our home’s exterior landscape has a very modern, french-country feel and is filled with gorgeous English Boxwoods throughout its gardens. I love the look, feel and smell of the English boxwood. Of course, its unique scent is both equally loved and hated by admirers. For me, it’s fragrance is reminiscent of the sound and feel of those warm, northeast, summer breezes coupled with lazy days reading and relaxing on the porch with a glass of mint iced tea in hand. There’s nothing quite like it.
There’s no doubt that I love the English Boxwood. However, it is particularly susceptible to disease and more specifically, boxwood blight, which is a type of fungus that can spread the disease quite quickly to and from any neighboring boxwoods.
This is exactly what happened to our mature, English Boxwood hedge, which used to beautifully accent our front living room windows. The disease came on quickly and spread fast, leaving our magnificent hedge looking like it had been through a California wildfire, leaving it scorched and bare without a drop of color left on its leaves. I’m devastated that its life had come to its end.
I have decided not to replace this hedge with another English Boxwood hedge. I don’t have the time to give it the treatment and care it deserves, which could leave it ripe and open for greater risk of disease. It’s also slow-growing, which will leave me with that same feeling I get when I’m waiting a lifetime for my toast to be ready.
I find that a great alternative to the English boxwood is the Manhattan Euonymus. This is my kind of shrub. Instant gratification is at the top of the list because it is super fast-growing and will fill out your space in no time. It’s brilliant, green color adds dimension and character to any garden. It’s an evergreen, so you will have colorful leaves from top to bottom year-round. As a bonus, it also sprouts beautiful tiny pink fruit during the fall months. And if you don’t have a green thumb, it’s nearly impossible to kill, even if the deer stop by for lunch from time to time. In fact, some Manhattan Euonymus owners enjoy such lunch visits and claim that frequent lunch visits by our furry friends promotes pruning and frequent pruning promotes growth. However, if you are extra worried about the deer, make sure your hedge is in a high traffic area, where deer will not want to venture and during the quieter months of winter, you can always wrap with protective garden netting.
Fast-growing evergreen with brilliant, shiny, green foliage. When pruned, tit is excellent as a hedge for more formal and neat appearance. Summer season produces flower clusters which give way to small ornamental fruit during the fall months.
Full sun best. Will also work in shaded areas with a slower rate of growth.
6-8 ft tall, 5-6 ft wide without pruning.
Weekly until established.
Strong resistance to disease.
All comments written above are my own opinion and thoughts as it relates to gardening.
There is nothing that makes me happier than being in my garden. This is where you will find me each and every day during the summer months, pruning, weeding, and watering away. And being the fitness nut that I am, I love the health benefits it offers. Fitness doesn’t have to be in the gym and there is nothing better than true, organic exercise that starts right in your backyard. There’s no need to turn up the heat when you’ve got the summer sun shining upon your face and the birds providing your with your ultimate workout soundtrack. Gardening is the all-natural and healthy way to burn calories and stay active.
When you garden, you experience a number of health benefits. Gardening in particular is associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward. If that’s not enough, all that planting, watering, pruning, and weeding eases stress and anxiety, improves memory and concentration, aids in improving hand strength and dexterity, helps immune regulation, and boosts self-esteem and well-being. One long-term study found daily gardening to represent the single biggest risk reduction for dementia, reducing incidence by 36%. For sure, just being around your garden right in your own backyard can improve your state of mind, giving you more energy and helping you to feel more alert, alive, and peaceful.
I’m happy to say that I just finished laying down 15 yards of mulch to make our gardens summer ready. Talk about a workout! I easily logged over 30,000 steps each day on my Fitbit until the pile was gone! While you can burn calories by gardening, I wouldn’t make this your main objective. Make your main objective to be healthy and to feel good. The calorie burn will follow.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my gym workouts. They give me the structure and routine that I need. But, when I am looking for a full body rejuvenation and peace of mind, I turn to my garden for some organic, all-natural exercise.
If you’re the type that must know the calorie burn connected to your activities, here is a helpful guideline:
Applying Fertilizer or Watering: 20-50 calories/30 minutes
If you’re walking along applying fertilizer, seeding a lawn, or watering your garden, you’ll burn about 20-50 calories every half hour. It’s one of the lower-intensity activities on the list, so don’t expect to get too much of a workout here. Use this one to offset your higher-intensity workouts on other days. If you want to get more out of this activity, break it up. Instead of using a hose to water, use a watering can and walk back and forth to fill it.
Weeding: 150-170 calories/30 minutes
Spend about a half hour pulling weeds from your garden and you’ll burn about 150 calories. Other estimates put the number a bit higher, at about 170 per thirty minutes. The faster you go and the more vigorously you work, the more you’ll burn. To intensify the workout, use more squats and lunges to get at the weeds rather than sitting down in the dirt. Don’t let your knees go over your toes.
Planting: 150 calories/30 minutes
Planting will take about the same amount of effort as weeding, yielding a 150-pound person about 150 calories burned in about 30 minutes. You can increase that number by lunging as you go—lunge, plant, get up, step forward, lunge, plant, and go again.
Digging: 190-200 calories/30 minutes
Digging requires more energy than weeding or planting, as you usually have to rely on your muscles to get that dirt loosened and out. It’s a great exercise for your shoulders and back—just remember to keep your core muscles firm as you work to avoid hurting your back. If you’re squatting down or lifting rocks out, you’ll also be working your thighs and buttocks. A half hour will burn about 190-200 calories.
Clearing Land: 200 calories/30 minutes
If you’re just starting your garden, you may have to clear a space for it. This is a great activity to do to burn some calories, as it usually combines digging with lifting and carrying, working the entire body. Estimates are that you’ll burn about 200 calories every 30 minutes. The same is true for spading and tilling.
Mowing the Lawn: 50-250 calories/30 minutes
The best way to burn calories by mowing is to use a push mower. Estimates are that you’ll burn about 170 calories every 30 minutes this way. If you use a hand mower (without power), you’ll raise that number to about 250 calories every thirty minutes. A riding mower, of course, requires a lot less energy on your part—you’ll burn only about 50 calories every 30 minutes.
Hedge Trimming: 120-150 calories/30 minutes
Often when your trimming hedges or trees, you’re using heavy equipment that you have to hold up and move around. That can help burn more calories for you. Estimates vary—it probably depends on how heavy your equipment is and how intensely you work. Trimming in this way will burn about 120-150 calories per 30 minutes.
Manual trimming, though you’re not supporting the weight of a machine, may help you burn more calories, because you have to use more muscles to do the work. Estimates are that trimming by hand will burn about 180-200 calories per half hour. You’ll also be likely to build up your bicep and shoulder muscles.
Raking: 200-400 calories/30 minutes
The best way to turn this activity into a good calorie burner is to combine your raking and sacking activities. Rake for a bit, then stop and put the grass and leaves in your trash bag. Combining the two will help you burn about 200-300 calories or more per half hour. (Some estimates put it up in the 350-400 calorie range.) If you stick to raking alone, you’ll cut that number about in half.
To get the most out of your raking, stand with feet about hip-width apart and use a wide raking motion on each side. This is a great workout for your arms and upper body.
Laying Sod or Crushed Rock: 200 calories/30 minutes
This is a more high-intensity gardening activity, as you have to carry the sod pieces (or bags of rock), bend and stand to set them into place, and move them around to fit. You’ll burn at least 200 calories an hour at this activity.
Moving Waste with a Wheelbarrow: 300-400 calories/30 minutes
This is a higher-intensity workout because you’re lifting a significant amount of weight with the wheelbarrow and whatever is inside it. Estimates are that filling it, moving it, and dumping it will burn about 300-400 calories an hour, maybe more depending on how quickly you’re moving and how much you’re carrying.
Looking for a simple way to brighten up your front porch? Find an inexpensive birdcage, add a flower or two...preferably ones that are easy to manage, some potting mix, and a coco liner. That's all you need! I've got a few more items to add to this porch. Once complete, I'll reveal the completed project!
Health & Wellness Expert - Health, Fitness, Wellness, Beauty