Ask a Question forum: Dead areas on coniferous tree

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NY
NYUser01
Oct 1, 2017 1:18 PM CST
Hello,

I am a new homeowner and just getting into gardening. There is a coniferous tree next to my deck with some dead branches and dying pine leaves.

Should I remove the dying leaves? In the completely dead sections, should the branches be trimmed off, and is it possible to stimulate new growth there? See attached pictures.

Thank you!
Thumb of 2017-10-01/NYUser01/52154d
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 1, 2017 1:50 PM CST
How long have you been caring for this tree? Did it look like this when you moved in? Has this been getting worse?

The dead branches are not going to re-sprout - they are dead. And no new branches will fill in the bare spots.

It reminds me of salt poisoning. Is the damage at the snow line? Do you use salt on your deck. Own a really tall dog?

If not salt burn, over or under-watering. Next time you water, dig down into the top of the root ball and see how moist it is.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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NY
NYUser01
Oct 1, 2017 3:14 PM CST
Thanks for the advice. I took over the property around February. The branches were dead already and I think the brown spots have been consistent. It is next to the driveway so there's a chance the previous owner shoveled salt laden snow onto it. No big dogs.

A few follow-up questions:

1. How should I address the brown spots and dead branch areas? I've heard that leaving dead branches around can be unhealthy for the tree. I am a beginner when it comes to pruning.
2. If I wanted to plant a similar tree next to it, what species should I look for? This is a full sun area. Is there something in particular that has a high growth rate? The bare spots are unsightly and I may eventually get rid of the tree.

Thank you
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Oct 1, 2017 3:33 PM CST
Cut all the dead stuff out. The problem with leaving dead material against the trunk is that it encourages root rot. Clean away any debris down to the soil level (you will be able to see the top of the root ball).

You could prune the whole bottom up to where you have green branches all the way around. Then it would look more like a small tree and less like a shrub with missing branches. If you add another plant, you won't be able to dig too close to the other tree - there will be too many fibrous roots in the way. Junipers are very fast growing.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Oct 1, 2017 8:16 PM CST
It is not a juniper. It is a Dwarf Aberta spruce, and quite old, 20-35 years old depending on what part of NY this is in.

This is the natural overall shape of the tree, and it looks to me like the previous owner just shoveled snow from the deck/stairs that created the big open spot near the bottom mostly by yearly bending and smushing the branches that were there. There aren't enough dead branches there that that would have filled that space.

I don't see any salt damage. That would have shown up in the spring, not late summer. Or, the problem would show through out the tree if it was severe, and not in just a few places.

The dead branches on the deck side of the tree died from insufficient light. The other stuff that died and is dying seems more like a fungal problem on the needles. Cleaning out all the dead twiggy stuff should help to increase air circulation and naturally curb the problem. But it will have no effect on root rot. I don't see any indication of root rot, anyway. The tree species is native to a much drier climate, and more importantly, a climate with drier air. There is not much you can do to mimic that, except try to keep the free moisture from lingering by improving air circulation and decreasing dead air space.

Daisy is right that new growth will rarely sprout from the non-green twigs, even if the twigs are supple and alive.

I would not fertilize the tree now, this late in the season. But do think about it next spring, when new growth on the tree begins.
NY
NYUser01
Oct 1, 2017 9:17 PM CST
Thank you both for the replies and advice. I think you are right-- the deck was built in 1990 and is too close to have been planted prior to its construction. I'm about 20 miles north of Manhattan.

I'll try the suggestion of pruning the lower branches up to where it's mostly green to improve the appearance. Can I do this now or should I wait until spring? Should I also prune back those dead patches towards the top/middle?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Oct 1, 2017 9:39 PM CST
I think I confused Leftwood. No not a Juniper, that was in responce to the question "What could I replace this tree with that is fast growing."

Its always best to prune after the plant has gone dormant. I personally don't prune anything until it starts to actively grow in the spring.

You can prune as high as you want but remember two things:

1. Whatever you prune off won't re-grow.

2. Its easier to take more off than add some on. Smiling


Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Oct 2, 2017 6:15 AM CST
Thumbs up

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