Evergreen shrubs are dying

(Question)

I live in Southern York Region and I have a number of evergreen plants, but they are not doing well. The needles are browning and the branches are wilting. The trunk also looks like they have shedding bark. More and more brown spots are appearing. I have also attached pictures. They have been doing ok for many years
and this year it looks weak. The plants get watered once a week and they were fertilized in Spring. Please help me save them. Thanks!

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(Answer)

How disturbing!  While all evergreens do lose their needles on a regular basis, the fact that all of your evergreens are showing signs of distress at this time is concerning. It may be that your evergreens are only suffering dieback as a result of dehydration following our mild winter and very cold spring, and that your program of fertilization and watering will be ultimately be successful, although it might take a couple of years. Given the particularly hot summer we are having you should consider aerating around the base of your evergreens and watering them more frequently if we continue to have very hot dry conditions.  Note that  you should not fertilize again until next year, as it would encourage new growth that might not be able to harden sufficiently before next winter.

However it is also possible that your plants are suffering from one or more of the fungal or other diseases that can affect evergreens.  Some of these are species specific and some may attack more than one species.  I suggest that you contact an arborist who can help you determine what the problem is and how best to treat it.

Here is a link to a previous TMG question on why evergreens might be browning that contains useful information, as well as links to diagnostic tools.

Good luck!