This tree was planted last summer prior to us taking possession of the house. We watered it a lot until we put the hose away for the winter. A bunch of other trees had similar symptoms, where specific branches would seemingly die off. Others are fine. I THINK the soil around here is clay. Cookstown, up the 400 from YYZ. Wanting to find out if this (these) trees are salvageable, what you think is happening here, and what I should do. Thanks! Greg
Since these are newly planted, you have no way of knowing whether they were planted properly or how they were cared for before you took possession. As you guessed, watering them well prior to winter is very important but they need to be watered until freeze up. In addition strong winds during the winter can cause winter desiccation. For more information about winter desiccation, take a look at the government site below.
These cedars are very popular, often used as a privacy screening around houses. We frequently get asked the same question about cedars turning brown especially after the winter season, so as a result we have a lot of information on our site about emerald cedars. Log into the “Ask a Master Gardener” website using “emerald cedar” to find lots of useful information about this popular evergreen. I have selected one for you to look at with lots of information but there is more on our site.