Dead material in my 4 year old evergreen

(Question)

Hello

Trying again. This weeping evergreen was planted about 4 years ago. We’re noticing a lot of dead branches at the base of the plant and in the middle. Should we be worried? What can we do to help this plant. Thanks for the help.

(Answer)

Hello again!  Thanks for resubmitting the photograph of what looks like a beautiful Arborvitae (Thuja) tree.  I have to say that although I do see some browning, otherwise your tree looks healthy and happy in its situation.  There seems to be evidence of new growth, and that’s always a good sign.  

When trying to diagnose a problem with any tree, we look for either stress from the environment or from pests and or disease. Diseased trees often show browning from the top down, so the fact that your tree has issues at the bottom and throughout the entire tree makes me think it’s more likely an environmental problem.

These trees have a very shallow root system and they are susceptible to water stress (either too much or too little) and from heat.  We have had really severe drought conditions in this area, especially in the spring when a tree’s new growth relies on a good water supply.  We also had early heat which also puts stress on these trees. I’m glad to hear that you are watering regularly, but beware that too much water in slow draining soil can cause roots to rot, so checking that the ground is wet after watering – and not soggy is very important. Trees left sitting with waterlogged roots will show the same symptoms as those with too little water = browning leaves.

My suggestion to you would be to check the soil for the water issues shown above.  A moisture meter might be a wise investment.  I might also give your tree a little TLC in the form of some well composted organic manure around the base of the tree but not touching the trunk.  I notice that you have mulch around your tree, that is good for moisture retention, but make sure you don’t pile it around the trunk of the tree.  Try not to prune off all of the brown leaves – a good shake will take off much of the damage without leaving “holes”.

To be on the safe side, carefully check the trunk and branches of your tree to be certain that you haven’t got an infestation of some kind.  I am including a link and a similar question and answer found on our website, you may find helpful.  If the problem gets worse you might consider having an arborist check your tree.  I have included a link to Landscape Ontario for help with finding an arborist in your area.   

https://landscapeontario.com

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=132

Section of evergreen browning