Persistant Tree Problem

I have replaced 3 Emerald Green Arborvitae from the West side of my house. They usually last about one year. Just across the sidewalk from the problem area is another Arborvitae, getting the same care, which seems to last much longer. An arborist looked at the problem and said he suspects bad trees, since there are yews and grass growing well, around the tree. This site was occupied for many years by a Red Cedar, which was always healthy and was pulled out because of Apple Cedar Rust interaction with my fruit trees. My soil has lots of clay about a foot down, but I dug a decent hole for it and added mulch to the soil. There are no signs of insect infestation, so this problem is really a mystery. The nursery supplier claims he has given me trees from Canada and Ohio, and I live in a suburb of Chicago. Even with our drought, the trees were given careful watering. The tree died over a one month period. Any suggestions would be welcome.
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sherwindu wrote:

Maybe that clay prevented your watering from percolating down and it drowned.
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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"he suspects bad trees, since there are yews and grass growing well, around the tree. This site was occupied for many years by a Red Cedar"
Could it possibly be that yews and red cedars like well drained soil, and arborvitae require much moister conditions? It is highly unlikely that you got "bad trees".
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