How to Save a Dying Arborvitae Tree

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What You'll Need
Plants that repel pests
Mite killer
Pruning shears
Netting or other barrier

The first step in saving an arborvitae tree is to determine what is causing it to die. While you can treat symptoms of a disease or pest infestation, the problem may return if you don't use the proper solution. The following article contains some common issues an arborvitae may suffer from, as well as some remedies you can try to fix it before the damage is done.

1. Leaves Turned Gray or Brown and Have Webbed Over

Mites can be a big problem for arborvitae. When these pests spin their webs over the leaves, they incur damage and turn brown or gray. In order to correct this problem, you will need to use a mite killer around your plant. Make sure that the solution you use will not harm your tree by spraying it on a couple leaves first and waiting a couple days to check results.

There are other symptoms that are caused by insects as well, so if you notice something similar, thoroughly inspect your arborvitae for signs of other insect activity. Then, try to remove the pests as much as possible. Consider planting plants that naturally repel pests in your yard near your arborvitae if the problem keeps coming back.

2. Ripped Leaves or Chewed Twigs

Another thing that can cause your arborvitae to die is to be eaten by moose, deer, or rabbits. These animals enjoy the taste of the tree and will eat it if they get the chance. Though there are repellents for animals, they are not usually effective and can harm both the animals and your plants.

The best way to prevent animals from feasting on your arborvitae is by putting up some sort of barrier around it. Consider netting that can easily be placed around the plants and trees or think about fencing in your entire yard.

3. Misshapen Tree

If you have an older plant, it is more susceptible to harsher weather. Often, branches and trunks can either break off or become damaged and almost unfixable. You can definitely try to prune it so that it gets good sunlight again, though most of the time it means that your tree will not survive the next storm. The best thing to do is to protect it and to mulch it often to prevent damage before it strikes.

4. Brown Leaves, Split Trunk, or Other Damage from Freezing

As with most trees, arborvitae are used to climate changes and will acclimate to lower temperatures. However, if a sudden cold spell hits the tree before it is done adjusting, the weather can freeze the plant tissues and make your tree sickly or kill it completely. Though you can’t control the weather, make sure you check your tree after the first cold spell and perhaps cover the base of it with leaves from your garden for extra protection. To help avoid this frostbite altogether, do not use mulch that is high in nitrogen in the late fall.

Other Things to Try

Make sure that your arborvitae is getting the right amount of sun and moisture, and that the soil it's in is well-drained. Consider transplanting it to a better location if any of these things are absent. You may also need to transplant it if it is not getting the nutrients it needs, or you can try mulching it with compost tea or other compost items to give it a boost.

Though many things can affect your arborvitae tree, there are several things you can do to protect it. The most important is to stay alert on how it is doing so you can make quick adjustments as needed.