Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Tree Health

Q: Can I save an evergreen that's losing its green needles and is browning throughout?

Friday, April 15, 2016  

Q: I have two shrubby evergreen trees on either side of my front door. They stand 6 feet tall and about 5 feet in diameter at their widest. They are over 20-25 years old, and one is losing its green needles and has browning throughout. The other appears healthy and just drops brown needles inside and the outer layer is full and green. I live in Utah, so they run through all weather. Can you suggest anything for me? Can I save it or should I dig it up? Thank you in advance.

A: The trees are dwarf Alberta spruce and grow very slowly and maintain a shrubby character. The one appears to have had multiple attacks of spider mites and shows signs of present infestation. The dead foliage will not grow back, and the plant has been permanently disfigured...replacement is the only solution. A miticide will kill the existing mites and protect the other tree from future infestation. It is doubtful a replacement of equal size could ever be found. A 5-foot plant in a #15 container is the largest available in Denver at a wholesale price of $175. Installation cost is estimated at $437.50.

Responder: Don Godi, RCA #444, Lakewood, CO