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?
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.
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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