Why Your Evergreen Is Dying From The Bottom Up

Evergreen trees turning brown from the bottom up can be an unsightly scene. There are many reasons why evergreen trees and shrubs turn color and sometimes die. If your evergreens are turning into ever-browns, look for these common symptoms to see how to save your declining tree.

1) Lack of Water

Drought-stressed trees gradually turn yellowish-green, then light brown. Discoloration starts at the top and progresses downward, and from the outside in. In drought environments, evergreen trees can have issues getting enough water to all their needles. Because of this, bottom needles will die and turn brown in order to help hydrate the rest of the tree.

Solution: If the tree’s soil is dry to the touch, give it extra water. Continue watering throughout the fall/winter and apply mulch to seal in moisture. 

2) A Pest or Disease

Evergreens attract a few common pests and diseases. The most common pests are the pine beetle that attacks the tree from inside out and the cytospora canker disease that leaves bulges on branches.

Solution: To spot a disease on a pine, look for anything from large cankers leaking white sap to needle death on inner branches. If you see something odd or worrisome, have an expert take a look. They’ll help diagnose and determine the best course of action.

3) Natural Occurrences

Though pine trees are evergreens that retain their green coloring year-round, they drop their oldest, inner needles every two to five years. This means that you'll see a limited amount of needle drop every year. If you notice sections of yellow or brown needles on the lower branches, this could be a healthy part of the natural needle cycle of your pines. Sometimes entire lower branches die as pine trees age and this is part of a normal growing cycle.

Solution: Check in with your arborist to see if it’s safe to prune browning branches for a better appearance.

4) Lack of Sunlight

Pine trees love sun, which means lower branches blocked from sunlight may not survive. Sometimes shade is a problem for all parts of the pine trees but dead needles and branch death occurs from the ground up.

Solution: You may need to provide your pine trees with more light or plant new pines in a sunnier location. If it's just the upper branches blocking sunlight to the lower branches, pruning the trees to thin bushy parts can help to ensure lower branches remain green and healthy.

If you suspect your evergreen tree is dying, contact us to see if and how it can be saved!