Ask the Arborist: Why are my evergreens and pines turning brown?

Welcome to our new feature, Ask the Arborist.  In this column, we aim to answer your tree and shrub care questions, and address current conditions we are seeing around Denver. Our goal is to help you learn more about how to care for the trees and shrubs on your property, and recognize any potential problems.

Why are my evergreen trees and shrubs turning brown?

Your tree was looking green and healthy last year, right? So what’s causing this sudden change? An early frost back in October, coupled with an ill-timed April freeze and fluctuating temperatures in both seasons, triggered the conditions we are seeing now. Last fall, we were enjoying warmer temperatures and trees did not enter into winter dormancy before the cold hit, causing the initial damage. (Winter dormancy helps trees stay protected through colder months.) Additionally, the rise and fall in temperatures this spring has only made the problem worse.

Should I be concerned?

While the sudden change in the appearance of your trees and shrubs may be alarming, don’t dismay…yet. Many varieties of pines and evergreens, including arborvitae and juniper, are exhibiting signs of stress in our area. There are steps you can take to try and help your trees and shrubs recover.

What can I do?

Start with a good, healthy dose of water. Unless we’re experiencing heavy rain, you should give your troubled trees and shrubs a deep soak twice a week. During the growing season, trees need 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter, per week. Avoid the hottest times of day, and water in the early morning or evening hours for best results.Along with watering, regular fertilization is one of the most important actions you can take for your trees. Annual fertilization will help prevent stress and keep your trees strong and healthy. Fertilization creates a healthy environment for your tree to recover and thrive, while feeding it the essential nutrients it needs for healthy growth. Our certified arborists can work with you to establish an ongoing treatment plan.Now watch and wait. Recovery will be slow, but there is hope. It could take a couple months before you start to see some improvement. Your tree may lose needles that turned brown, but new growth can replace this loss slowly over time. Look for signs of recovery and new growth on branch tips. When in doubt, contact us and we’d be happy to take a look.

When you call us for a free consultation, you can be confident in the knowledge and expertise of our ISA-certified arborists. ISA-certification means that our arborists are trained tree specialists with at least three years of experience, have passed a certification exam, and maintain ongoing continuing education requirements. When we visit your property you will receive the best possible service experience and the top-quality care you deserve. 

Contact us to get your free estimate today!