Need help for failing evergreen shrub

I live in zone 5b. There are two decorative evergreen trees/shrubs, one on each side of the porch facing south. I never have fertilized since moving into this house. They just aren't looking that good, some of the needles are browning and I didn't see much new growth last spring.
They are shaped like christmas trees and are about ten feet tall. They do not have sharp needles, more like light green finger type foliage. I wish I knew what it was but I don't.
What do you suggest I do this spring to get them back in shape?
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They are facing South? Are they browning out on the South side of the tree? Have there been any ice storms? Seen any Bagworms? How far inward are they browning?

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Any advise????
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I'm guessing that they are some variety of arborvitae or chaemacyparis. Most varieties are relatively slow-growing, so you don't really need to be concerned about not very rapid growth. Many are also susceptible to spider-mites and problems with winter burn. Both can cause areas of browning. It's also quite common for much of the interior foliage to die and fall to the ground. Unless all the leaves turn a dull green and there is no fresh smell when you run your hands across the foliage, I don't think you need to be too concerned. Usually in spring or summer, I attach a strong spray attachment to my hose and try to knock off all the dead foliage.

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Get right in close and examine the trunk and ground around it. Is there sawdust on the trunk or on the ground near the trunk? Is there some grey webbing on the trunk that conceals a hole where you could poke a thin pencil into the trunk? You'll need to poke around to discover it; it can be well hidden. If in evidence, that indicates borer. Some species of shrubs are much more prone to borer attack than others.
I suggest that you get a ladder and pruners and cut off every brown dead patch within reach. That way, you'll be able to gauge how quickly more of the tree dies back. Are you experiencing unusually dry weather at the moment? If so, give them some deep watering. -- John Savage (my news address is not valid for email)
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