The Q&A Archives: Several Plants Died In Same The Location. How Can I Tell If It Is The Soil?

Question: In the last 2 years since we bought this house, several established plants have died in the same area (along the side of the home). Two yews and now a newly planted rhododendrum (replaced the first dead yew). I can see signs the next yew in line is already fading. Is this probably a problem with the soil and can I do some home test to find the answer?

Answer: Since there does seem to be a pattern, you will need to do some detective work. Here are some typical reasons why shrubs might yellow and that could also appear in such a progression: a water or drainage change or problem such as runoff from an eaves trough or underground gutter, causing flooding in the area; an oil or gas leak in an underground pipe; deicing chemicals washing into the area; extended exposure to vehicle exhaust during the winter; proximity to a drier vent; attack by a rodent such as voles; some type of gardening problem such as improper planting, mulching with "hot" mulch, improper application of pesticide, or even possibly, overfertilizing. I hope this helps you trouble shoot the problem.

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