Reasons Why Your Evergreen is Dying from Bottom Up – And How to Save

Reasons Why Your Evergreen is Dying from Bottom Up – And How to Save

Think back to the early days of your treasured evergreen tree. With meticulous care, you watched the tree thrive–sprouting emerald-green needles from the bottom all the way to the tippy-top.

Years later, those older bottom branches become a target for disease and insects.

Evergreen trees turning brown from the bottom up are unsightly. Plus, you’re likely wondering if this means your pine or spruce is dying. Look for these symptoms to see how to save your declining tree.

Why is My Evergreen Tree Turning Brown from the Bottom Up?

1) Water, Please

In drought-like conditions, evergreens may have trouble getting enough water to all their needles. As a result, bottom needles die to help hydrate the rest of the tree.

This problem is easy to fix!

If the tree’s soil is dry to the touch, give it extra water through summer’s dry spells. Continue watering throughout the fall, and apply mulch to seal in moisture. 

2) A Pest or Disease

Evergreens attract a few common pests and diseases. Most commonly, there’s the pine beetle that attacks trees from the inside out, and the cytospora canker disease that leaves bulges on branches while seeping sap from the trunk.

Look on your evergreen’s branches for small holes or sawdust, which points to an insect infestation. To spot a disease on a pine or spruce, look for anything from large cankers leaking white sap to needle death on inner branches.

If you see something odd or worrisome, have an expert take a look. He’ll help diagnose and determine the best course of action.

3) It’s Just Natural. 

Evergreens naturally wean out older needles as part of their growing cycle. Plus, when higher needles branch out, lower ones blocked from sunlight may die off. Since trees have a finite amount of energy, they want to prioritize the needles that can get sunlight to complete photosynthesis.

As long as the soil is moist to the touch, and you don’t spot an infestation, your tree is in good shape.

Check in with your arborist to see if it’s safe to prune browning branches for a better appearance. Just to be safe! This way, if there is a problem, we can spot it and develop a treatment plan sooner.

If you suspect your evergreen tree is dying, reach out to your local arborist to see if and how it can be saved!

  • The Tree Doctor July 23, 2018 >Hi Vicki, Many western pines are having difficulties with warming temperatures leading to a variety of stress related insect and disease issues. It still wouldn’t hurt to have an arborist come out and take a look just to make sure they aren’t struggling with a pest or disease. Here is a resource that can help with hiring a certified arborist in case you decide to go that route: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Vicki.
  • The Tree Doctor July 23, 2018 >Hi Doris, Evergreens can commonly turn brown from drought, but depending on species, there may be other disease or insect factors involved as well. I would recommend having a certified arborist come out and take a look. They will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that can help with finding a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you, Doris.
  • Vicki Turner July 22, 2018 >HI I have two very old Pine trees and the past few years they have dropped their brown needles but until I put it on a watering system seemed to be ok.. this past year it acts like its dying and now it has begin to drop its green needles too when the wind blows I have taken it off the watering system before but he said to use some ironite and now the trees seem to be dying for even toward the top there are more dark brown spots showing its very expensive here to take out two pine trees the age of these is there anything I can do to save them or is it too late.. Thank You Vicki Turner
  • Doris Cawelti July 18, 2018 >What are the treatments for evergreen trees that have turned brown because of drought?
  • The Tree Doctor July 16, 2018 >HI Brent, Here are some watering guidelines. Trees generally have enough water if the upper 12 inches of soil is moist. If additional water is needed, such as in the absence of rainfall for a couple weeks, water the area beneath the tree canopy. One inch per week is usually sufficient. This amounts to about 625 gallons per 1,000 square feet of soil surface per week in the absence of rainfall. If you implement these watering guidelines and your tree still doesn’t appear to get better, I would contact a certified arborist in your area. Here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Brent.
  • The Tree Doctor July 16, 2018 >Hi Tom, I recommend contacting a certified arborist and having them come out and take a look at that tree. They will be able to confirm the needlecast and evaluate the options from there. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help with hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Tom.
  • Tom Yuhasz July 15, 2018 >In Marysville MI - about 50 miles NE of Detroit. Have a evergreen tree (Colorado Spruce) , 38 - 40 years old and approx. +40 feet high. Has needlecast disease with lower branches mostly bare. Green , new growth on outer portions of branches - with more growth on upper area of tree. Can tree still be treated and saved
  • Brent R Sessions July 14, 2018 >Weeping white pine needles on lower branches beginning to turn brown, clay soil. I need to know if I am over watering or under watering tree?
  • The Tree Doctor July 3, 2018 >Hi Cherie, I highly recommend you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look at your pine as soon as possible. They will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment plan. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that should help you with hiring a reputable tree care company or certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you!
  • The Tree Doctor July 2, 2018 >Hi Laurr, There are several possibilities as to why your Spruce could be dying from the bottom up. I highly recommend that you contact a certified arborist and have them come out to take a look at your Spruce. They will be able to properly diagnose the issue and prescribe a treatment plan. You can contact your local Davey Tree office at (724) 279-3005 or fill out a quick form to request a free consultation here: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/north-pittsburgh-tree-service/#main-form. Best of luck to you. Here if you have any more questions, Laurr.
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