Ask a Question forum: Struggling arborvitae

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Pittsburgh, Pa
BrownThumbGirl
Apr 11, 2018 11:05 AM CST
Hi! I have a row of arborvitaes that are not doing well. When they were planted, they were in relatively decent shape. This will be their third summer. (Planted spring 2016) They are actually deteriorating from their original condition. I don't believe that our "yard guy" was necessarily qualified to plant these trees correctly. He also bought fertilizer in the form of steaks to put at the base of each tree last year. I don't think it helped at all and I think it actually might have been detrimental. But, that is water under the bridge at this point. I also don't think they were watered correctly during their first season. Is there anything I can do now to try and resurrect these plants and helped them thrive? I have read conflicting reports. Should I try and fertilize now? They're just looking slightly spindly and sparse. Most of the trees also have many yellowed branches. Thanks in advance for any possible ideas you might have!
*I should also add, as my name implies, that I do not have a green thumb whatsoever. However, I'm a quick learner and I'm good with directions! LOL
Thumb of 2018-04-11/BrownThumbGirl/db1d3f

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Apr 11, 2018 11:59 AM CST
Brownthumb - no more fertilizer spikes. I noticed the grass grows right up to the trees. Can you remove the grass and put down yard-waste compost (not composted manure) around them as a mulch? Do you use weed killer on your lawn? Could be several different things causing failure to thrive.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Pittsburgh, Pa
BrownThumbGirl
Apr 11, 2018 12:13 PM CST
Shadegardener... The picture I posted is a little deceiving. The grass actually stops about a foot from the base of each tree. There are a couple grass clippings near the base, just due from a recent yard mowing. Between the grass clippings and the quality of the picture, that is probably why it looks like the grass goes up to each tree.
I can definitely do a yard waste compost! Do I literally just gather up the grass clippings and spread them around the bottom as is? Or is there a process? LOL So sorry for my ignorance on all this!
And yes, we use a weed killer on our grass. We also planted arborvitae about 10 years ago a little further down our yard. (These were planted by a different guy.) I will attach a picture so you can see the difference in these trees. Clearly, about 7 years separates them in age, but the large trees are just so healthy. I figured I should provide a picture.

Thumb of 2018-04-11/BrownThumbGirl/86ea79

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Apr 11, 2018 12:13 PM CST
Welcome!

Check to see if the root ball is level with the soil. If not, removed some dirt until you see roots. These plants are very prone to root rot if the connection between the roots and the trunk is covered with soil or grass. If you mulch (I'm not sure how you would mulch lawn), keep the mulch about a foot away from the trunks.
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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