Answer: Most current recommendations would include removing both the metal and the burlap, particularly since modern burlap is more often than not a synthetic rather than natural fiber that will disentegrate over time. Usually it is better not to disturb the rootballs, however if they were dipped in slurry and coated in a layer of clay or had a similar treatment, it may be important to loosen that outer layer to encourage the roots to grow outward through it. Sometimes too machine dug plants will end up with some extra soil mounded at the top of the ball, and this should be scraped away so that the plants are planted at their original growing level. Arborvitaes are subject to a number of disease and insect problems, and transplant stress could also be affecting them. Planting at the wrong depth, over watering or underwatering or even physical damage to the branches can all cause browing, too. You might want to consult with your county extension (285-4630) and the supplier for the plants to determine the reason for the browning and the best approach at this point.
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