Backyard Reno: Juniper Bush Removal & Final Fence Design

Happy Friday folks! We are gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend ahead of us and look forward to knocking a few things off our to-do list and continue making progress with our Backyard Reno project.

A little back story: Our backyard backs up to the neighborhood pool which we love. There is a cut-through path in the back right-hand corner where families often walk down to the pool from our street. Also, this is the best sledding hill in the neighborhood! We wanted to keep this in mind during the design process and leave this path open to our neighbors. The yard is relatively flat with the exception of a slope towards the back of our property that was covered with juniper bushes. We wanted to remove about half of the bushes to keep them from growing up against the fence which could cause premature wood rot in the future.

Over the last couple of weeks, John has worked so freaking hard to cut down these juniper limbs and remove the root balls. No easy task! I helped as much as I could but mostly brought him ice water, lunch, chore beer and encouragement.

Two things I have been reminded of: 

  1. John is a wizard at everything he does AND demonstrates a happy heart even when the task is completely terrible, exhausting, and uncomfortable. What a man!
  2. These bushes are seriously the worst - not to mention the jungle of poison ivy growing all throughout. And YES we were both covered in it had the joy of experiencing horrible skin rashes for 3 weeks. 

With the help from a couple of buddies (THANK YOUUUU Dominic and Bryan!), they ripped out the root balls using an off-road vehicle jack (similar), a chain saw (this one), an axe (this one), a mattock (this one) and limb loppers (this one). The idea was to cut away the intertwined, razor sharp branches close to the ground and then crank the root ball out of the ground using the jack. 

The guys piled all of the yard waste up in the side yard to get it out of the grass. Then we brought in the big guns...


We rented a 6-inch chipper from Sunbelt Rentals to mulch all of the branches and towed it home with a 2-inch ball hitch. This was worth every penny! I sure hope we don't have to (or choose to) remove juniper bushes EVER again, but, if we did, we would definitely go this route.

We laid down a tarp so that the mulch could pile up neatly rather than spit all over our yard.


All of the branches are mulched and all we have left is to take the pile of stumps to the dump.



1. Wear long pants and long sleeves while removing the junipers and inevitable poison ivy. Juniper bushes are like nature's barbed wire and you definitely will want to have your arms and legs protected.

2. As the old saying goes, "Leaves of three, leave them be!" (aka Try to avoid touching Poison Ivy at all cost)

3. Immediately rinse your arms in rubbing alcohol to help dry up any residual poison ivy oil that may have touched your clothes and skin.

Fast forward to today, the string tied to the stakes in the ground shows where the parameter of the fence will go. We plan to have the fence come off the side of the house on the left and connect to our neighbor's fence. On the right side, the fence will come off the house and then turn towards the back of our property line and cross in front of the remaining bushes.


Here is John's rendering for what the fence panels will look like:


And here is what the overall layout will look like (we have more yard in the back than we do in the front since our house sits on a cul-de-sac - hints the unique shaped fence) :


This weekend, we are renting an auger to dig the post holes and get the 4x4's set with concrete. Can't wait to see this fence come to life! Hope you all have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend! 

Emily WardComment