Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:03 pm
Location: Princeton NJ

Weeping Atlas Cedar Nightmares!

Hi Everyone!

So, this past summer, my parents decided that our little courtyard needed some serious landscaping done, so they went in and transplanted a few plants a cut down a 20 foot pine tree that was growing into the house.

They then hastened to go out and buy a beautiful weeping atlas cedar from a nearby nursery. It was not until after they had bought this plant, however, that they discovered the whole courtyard was filled with dense, nasty clay.

Nonetheless, we decided to dig a large hole, place the weeping atlas cedar in the middle, and surround it with about two feet of topsoil on all sides. After about a month or so, the tree had completely died despite our efforts to revive it.

Because we had paid the nursery to plant the tree, and they had guaranteed it, we managed to get a new weeping atlas for only $50.

This time, we made a deal with a landscape working nearby to landscape the courtyard.

If you want to skip the top part, start reading here... :wink:

Currently, the weeping atlas cedar is planted in a large mound of topsoil, about 3 feet high. There is also a gravel ditch, running from the mound, where the water is meant to drain from the mound.

The tree has been fine most the winter, but about a month ago, we started seeing brown and yellow needles. We were told this is natural in the winter, but the tree has continued to deteriorate.

At this point, we need some advice on how we might save this tree.

I assume that the mound is still absorbing too much water, and these trees need soil that drains well. Despite our elaborate draining system, the mound still tends to get quite moist, most likely because it sits on a couple feet of dense clay.

The tree receives unobstructed sunlight.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to save this tree or what might be happening?

If more information is needed, please say so, as I am new to gardening as you can probably tell. :oops:

Here are some pictures:


Thanks so much!

Senior Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Shenandoah Valley

Wait and see

Ztrain... I definitely liked the second planting method better than the first. i suspect the first time you pretty much created a clay pot in the ground that filled with water.

The mounding and drainage provided by the second crew should work well.

I'm not sure I would write it off yet. Its been a pretty hard winter on the eastern seaboard including NJ (I hail from there myself). The yellowing may well be winter burn that the tree will recover from. I really don't see any actions you can take at this time to improve the tree's chances.
hey its me!


Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:03 pm
Location: Princeton NJ

valleytreeman -

Thank you very much for your response. I guess I could just keep waiting and see if the tree keeps getting worse, though I'm worried because many branches have brown needles and the tree has been losing a fair amount of needles.

I hope this is all just a result of the cold winter, but if anyone thinks otherwise or has other suggestions, please speak up!


Return to “Trees, Shrubs, and Hedges”