Need input on 2 large and wild junipers. How to possibly trim them as bonsais?

Cloudwalker

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I love these trees and refuse to cut them down despite that they were planted below the house eave, which they've pushed around and surpassed. Last winter both suffered large breaks from snow weight. They still look healthy and strong to me. I would love to shape them as bonsais but am not sure how to begin (how to find the desired lines). If I post pics, would anyone be willing to advise? Thank you!
 

Forsoothe!

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Yes, and if you click on your Icon in the upper right corner and add your location, people can give advice customized to your climate.
 

vedecx

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You will of course get advice. It is best to add pictures when asking about specifics on your trees. This way others know what you are talking about and don't imagine the wrong thing from your description.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Welcome to Bonsai Nut.
Bonsai is a compound Japanese word, with part mean pot or tray, and the ending syllable meaning tree. Literally Bonsai means tree in a pot.

When a tree is growing in the ground, and being shaped while growing in the ground as a permanent part of the landscape the Japanese term, or at least the term used in North America is "Niwaki" There is a great deal of overlap in techniques for bending and layering and shaping between Niwaki and Bonsai, but there are a few differences. There are garden forums dedicated to Japanese gardens and creating Niwaki that might have better information for you than this bonsai forum, but I am not familiar enough to give you a link.

You are welcome to post here. We will certainly try to help. I just mention Niwaki, so that you can get the best help possible.

So post a few photos, tell us how tall you would like the trees to "finish size", and any other plans you have in mind.

It sometimes helps to take paper and pencil, or laptop and paint program, and starting with what you actually have, try to draw out the new design, using the branches that are actually there. Over the winter this can be an ongoing project. Snap an image of the drawings and post them with your photos of the actual trees. Someone on here will probably be happy to edit and or re-edit the images to show what might be practical, with suggestions on how to get there.

One difference between bonsai and niwaki is that in niwaki there is a tendency to use guy wires or guide wires to move or reposition branches. In bonsai we usually would wrap wire around a branch to accomplish the repositioning of the branch. In bonsai pruning can be very detailed and by hand tools. In niwaki the pruning might be done with electric shears. But there is over lap in the techniques and design principals used.
 

Paradox

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Uhh they are kinda big, unless you have a forklift to move them around, I would say these are too big to make into bonsai.
 

Paradox

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They don't want to be moved. ( ;
I guess you could try to cut them back in size and shape them into lawn sized "bonsai"
They wont be truly considered bonsai unless they are in a pot. The very definition of bonsai is "plant in pot".
I guess this would be called "topiary"?
But you could try to shape them into something. You would use the same techniques you would use for a juniper bonsai, it would just be on a bigger scale
 

Brian Van Fleet

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If you’re in no hurry, cut the, back pretty hard in the spring (like down to 30” tall) and see what pops. Likely they will bud back, likely you can collect, and likely you can carve away some of the bulk. However, if the trunks are just living phone poles, it may not be worth that much effort.
 

Forsoothe!

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Topiary is a style and separate from bonsai which are never intended to look like topiary. These could be styled in the fashion of a bonsai but there is one big impediment: bonsai only works because we reduce the roots in order to limit growth of the canopy. You can apply the rules of bonsai to limit growth of foliage to a cloud layer growing ~sideways~only , not too high from the branch and none growing downward to create space between branches, keeping the profile in the form of a golden triangle as formal or informal upright, flat-top, windswept or what-have-you; anything except branches terminating in balls of foliage. It could look nice for a time, but you have to figure out how to limit root growth because a whole, intact root system would respond to the bonsai training as if it were attacked by Paul Bunyan or a hurricane and push growth, in spades. So, trench it to restrict, reduce and contain the roots and be prepared to keep after the top and the roots forever, just as you would something in a pot. If you accomplish that you'll be a hero.
 
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Looks like you have plenty of options to learn how to air layer.

Just my humble take on the pictures you provided

thanks
 

Vance Wood

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Find something else to do. If you do not have the motivation to get accurate up close photos of the trees you are intererewsted in how can you possibly expect some sort of miraculous reply from us??
 

Cloudwalker

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Find something else to do. If you do not have the motivation to get accurate up close photos of the trees you are intererewsted in how can you possibly expect some sort of miraculous reply from us??
Well, yes I could get better pictures. Though, because these are rather large trees at this point, it is difficult to get up close for anything other than abstract branch foliage. I was trying to capture the overall shape but the definition is lacking, I agree. "Find something else to do", ugh... I imagined, Vance Wood with your apparent superior expertise, you'd be able to see the lines I'm trying to find.
 

Cloudwalker

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Topiary is a style and separate from bonsai which are never intended to look like topiary. These could be styled in the fashion of a bonsai but there is one big impediment: bonsai only works because we reduce the roots in order to limit growth of the canopy. You can apply the rules of bonsai to limit growth of foliage to a cloud layer growing ~sideways~only , not too high from the branch and none growing downward to create space between branches, keeping the profile in the form of a golden triangle as formal or informal upright, flat-top, windswept or what-have-you; anything except branches terminating in balls of foliage. It could look nice for a time, but you have to figure out how to limit root growth because a whole, intact root system would respond to the bonsai training as if it were attacked by Paul Bunyan or a hurricane and push growth, in spades. So, trench it to restrict, reduce and contain the roots and be prepared to keep after the top and the roots forever, just as you would something in a pot. If you accomplish that you'll be a hero.
Thank you for this.. Some very helpful info to go on.
 

rollwithak

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Well, yes I could get better pictures. Though, because these are rather large trees at this point, it is difficult to get up close for anything other than abstract branch foliage. I was trying to capture the overall shape but the definition is lacking, I agree. "Find something else to do", ugh... I imagined, Vance Wood with your apparent superior expertise, you'd be able to see the lines I'm trying to find.
I know it‘a tough to take the approach @Vance Wood is giving you but he’s right. One could say it could’ve been done with a bit more finesse, but the point is, there aren’t any easy answers, typically, in Bonsai or trees in general, so if you want actual good advice, over the internet nonetheless, you gotta give as many detailed depictions as you possibly can!

He’s not responding like that to be a d**k, just blatantly being blunt about your lack of detail and wanting help.

That being said, your best bet is an air layer or extreme cut-back based on what the base of the trunk looks like. Keep it coming !
 

leatherback

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Keep in mind: Most of these trees are irrelevant. The first 3ft of trunk is where the bonsai needs to be hidden. The rest is for the chipper or airlayering. So take a few shots of what is hiding down low. Most likely, these are the telephone poles mentioned before, which would make these just large bushes, not great material per se.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Cloudwalker

My suggestion is to contact a local landscape nursery that specializes in Japanese Garden planning and maintenance. Tell them you have 2 junipers you would like to "Niwaki". Ask them if they will come out to your home and do the pruning for you. For a fee, I'm certain it can be done.

Niwaki is the term for Japanese style trained trees growing in the ground. They are not bonsai if they are not in a pot.
 

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