Juniper Bonsai Art

This Juniper started out as a bonsai specimen that the homeowner tended frequently. Somehow it got left to the wayside for a number of years and became a hedge. Our job was to restore it to a bonsai. We can do this with just about any size tree or shrub. It just takes a little more time than your average job. Working, grooving together and getting into the feel of this tree to discover its inner shape and beauty took three of us about three hours. Om shanti.



Cedar Trees



Transplanting a small tree

My client had planted this Fig tree too close to her foundation. It’s not a problem right now, but it will be some day. So it is best to take care of these things now while the tree can still be salvaged.

I dug a semi-circular trench about 18 inches from the trunk of the tree, about 18 inches deep. The trench was about a food wide. Had it not been butted up against the foundation I would have dug the trench all the way around.

Most tree roots are located in the upper 10-20 inches of the soil, depending on the age, size, species, and environment. Very young trees have tap roots that go straight down, but they usually disappear within a few years. This tree had been in the ground for a few years and I did not come across a tap root.

After digging the trench 18 inches down I began to remove the dirt under the tree. I also used my pruners to cut all the straggling roots that I had previously cut with the shovel.

Eventually I was able to lift the root ball, with the help of my assistant. We slid the tree over about one foot.

Fine micro hairs on the roots are responsible for absorbing water for the tree (osmosis). When these roots are disturbed they are destroyed. But they eventually grow back. In the meantime, it important to water a tree more frequently right after it has been planted, or transplanted. Sometimes you can remove some leaves to reduce the amount of water loss. Water enters trees through the roots, but loses water through the leaves (transpiration).

Misplaced Tree of the Week

The tree above is a Loquat, or Eriobotrya japonica. It’s not a common street tree in San Francisco, but closely related to the Bronze Loquat which is a common street tree. Both are evergreen, slow to moderate growers. When the above tree was planted the person who planted it never considered the problems that would incur down the line when the tree outgrew the small space. The roots have cracked the foundation and buckled the sidewalk because they are not getting enough oxygen.

Further inspection shows that the ground has poor drainage (below). After the contractor removed the concrete he hosed off the mess. Several hours later I passed by and noticed that the water was still pooled up at the base of the tree. This is not surprising since Mission Creek runs under 18th street.

Loquats like good drainage. These roots pushed up the pavement because they were growing where they could get oxygen, at the surface of the soil.

The concrete contractor did a poor job of working around the roots. He put several gouges in the roots that will add stress to the tree. This is not surprising since it was not his area of expertise.

The owners of this tree inherited it with the purchase of the house. They want to keep the tree, but they should have hired an arborist to monitor the roots during the concrete demolition.

I hope this tree makes it. I’ll keep you all posted.

I enjoy pruning Loquat trees. The fruit which ripens in the fall is attractive to birds and delicious to arborists.

The Bronze Loquat, Eriobotrya deflexa, makes a great street tree. Its new foliage in the spring has a crimson hue. The Bronze Loquat, however, rarely produces fruit. In the picture below see how the bronze leaves beautifully echo the color in the house’s facade.

Another Corymbia ficifolia


A very popular tree in San Francisco, these trees do well be they are well suited to sandy soils and coastal, Mediterranean climates. They come from the south coast of Western Australia.


The goal was to give this tree a thinning out, but to keep a natural shape. The job took me and Mike about 5 hours, including set up and clean up. I did the pruning and Mike monitored the ground for pedestrian safety, advised me on the overall shape (we call it an eyeball), and did most of the clean up.