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Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:27 pm
by Minihub67
Hello all, I am looking for some help after having four Aborvitae installed with some new landscaping along the side of my backyard. They are approximately 6 feet tall and I've been watering them three times a week. It seems like all of them are starting to get brown spots and seem to be dying on me. They are on a slope so they don't get soaked if it rains, so I have been soaking them with a soaker type hose.
Any advice would be great, I will try to attach some images.

Re: Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:07 pm
by rainbowgardener
That very likely is just transplant shock. Transplanting large trees like that is not easy. Roots are dug up and broken in the process. And sometimes they make it through that and some times they don't. I hope you got these nice and obviously expensive specimens from some place that gives some guarantee. Did the nursery you bought them from install (plant) them or did you? If you did it, please tell us some more about how you planted them (how big a hole, etc).

You are right that you need to keep the plant from ever drying out. But you also have to avoid letting it be soggy. Over-watering can cause root rot. It should get about an inch of water a week, including rainfall*. Overwatering can cause root rot that also can cause foliage to brown and die back, so water only when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch.

It looks like you have some mulch down, but it looks like only a thin layer. I think you need a lot more. You want a 3 inch layer or so of mulch. That will help conserve the soil moisture and keep it more consistent, rather than going through so much wet/ dry cycles, which are hard on the tree.

Keep an eye on the browning to see whether it is getting worse and watch for new bright green growth on the tips. If they are putting out new growth, that is a sign that they are rooting in and probably will make it.

If these for some reason don't make it, my suggestion next time would be get smaller/ younger specimens. Younger ones transplant much easier and take off quicker. Often in two years, the smaller ones have caught up to ones that were transplanted at a much larger size, but struggled more.

Best wishes! Keep us posted on how they do.

* If you didn't get any rain, one inch of rainfall equals 4.7 gallons of water per square yard. So that means you need to put at least five gallons of water on the soil around each tree, every week that you don't have any rain.

Re: Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:25 pm
by GardeningCook
I agree that that looks like nothing more than transplant shock to me as well. In addition, it's very easy to accidentally damage some lower branches during the planting process.

Keep up your regimen, have some patience, & give everything some time. It can take more than one season for large plantings to establish themselves depending on where you're located.

Re: Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:29 pm
by Minihub67
Thank you so much for the reply, these are actually from John Deere nursery and a landscaper installed them and some sod for me. I was not present when they were put in so I'm not sure what technique that uses this far as the size of the hole etc. I'm going to just keep checking how moist soil is and take it from there.
I do appreciate the gallons of water versus 1 inch measurement. That will make it much easier for me to get a handle on, it is actually pine straw that is around ithem so hopefully I can add more since it's pine straw not mulch.
I will also check for new growth, to be honest I never really paid attention to that.
Thanks again

Re: Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:38 pm
by GardeningCook
Again - have patience with regards to new growth. It may take some time since the plants will be putting more energy into root growth at first rather than top growth.

Here in Virginia we planted a birch tree late last summer & didn't see any new leaf growth whatsoever until this Spring. And all of our well-established evergreens (including Arborvitae) have already finished putting out their new growth for the season. So do give your gang some time. :)

Re: Need help with Aborvitae

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:15 pm
by rainbowgardener
Just to clarify - mulch is any organic material you put down to cover the soil. Wood chips/ bark chips are often sold as mulch, but your pine straw is mulch, as are grass clippings and many other things.