Sick Hedges and Pine Tree - Newbie here.

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by thebigbuck, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. thebigbuck

    thebigbuck Member

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    Blanchard, Oklahoma, USA
    Yes please. I have purchased a home with nice plants and am learning as fast as I can regarding what to do to keep everything healthy. I have two major problems and I need some help please.

    First, my hedges are starting to die and I do not know the cause. There is an area that looks great and then all of the sudden they turn into an area that is without many leaves and look dead. There are small brown spots all over the hedges, both on the healthy ones and the areas that are dying. Last year I sprayed the hedges with Bayer which was supposed to kill mold but obviously that did not help. Please see the following link for pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/The.Waits.Family/PlantTrouble

    Second, I have a pine tree (not sure of the official name) and the top part has started to look dead. I sprayed and killed bag worms on these trees last year with Sevin. That is all I have done and this seems to have happened very quickly. Again, see the pictures in the link above.

    Again, I am very new to all of this but really want to know the proper treatment and to learn more. Please advise if I have posted this in the wrong area but not positive what these plants actually are. I really appreciate your time and help.

    Thanks, Paul.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The 'pine' is a juniper; the brown foliage is dead and won't recover. Not enough detail visible to determine the cause. Best prune it out. The remaining green foliage looks healthy.
     
  3. thebigbuck

    thebigbuck Member

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    Michael,

    Many thanks. I will prune it out immediately. I wish I could determine the cause. Anything I can do to provide better evidence to help diagnose the root cause?
     
  4. mrtree

    mrtree Active Member

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    Your photos do not expand properly so it is difficult to get too much info from them. I am guessing that the hedge is privet and suffers from poor "pruning" and soil problems. PRuning does not mean squaring the hedge off. It should be hand thinned to remove dead/dying wood and to allow for vigourous new growth the start. Improving the soil by mulching with a partially decayed organic material (wood chips) should add needed nutrients and biological components to the soil which will help the hedge.

    The top of the Juniper looks dead, but bleached. Since it is at the top of the roof line is it possible it was killed during the installation of a new roof? Perhaps quite simply it was killed by a combination of sun and heat.

    You have been doing a lot of pesticide spraying. Forget it. The root problem is often the roots, create a healthy root enviroment (soil) and you will have healthier plants. Check out books such as Teaming With Microbes for an ecological based view of happy soils.

    Michael
     
  5. thebigbuck

    thebigbuck Member

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    Michael,

    Thanks for the information. I will begin working on the soil, you are right, this is an area that I have not concentrated on.

    This may seem like a silly question, but will dog urine effect these plants? I only ask because I can not think what might have effected my soil in these locations only.

    Here are a few of the pictures so maybe these are easier to see.

    Thanks again, Paul.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. mrtree

    mrtree Active Member

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    Dog urine can affect a plant and create an effect such as you are seeing. Dogs urine damage seems far more common on evergreens than decidious shrubs. Often blackened circles are found on the foliage. As for affecting the soil I would not be greatly concerned unless the dog(s) has chosen a single spot to use. Since I know nothing about your soils it is hard to say what, if any, affect the urine might have on soil biochemistry and microbiology.

    What you need to think about is that most landscape plants enjoy a light, organic rich soil. This supports lots of microorganisms, eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers, and can "buffer" negative things such as urine and pollution. No matter what the native soil (which has been destroyed during the building of the house and subsequent "normal" human acticities) most landscapes will appreciate an application of organic matter. Starting the soil back to an healthy living state will reap huge benefits for the plants and the earth.

    One way to consider plants is to compare them with humans. Are you a healthier person by adding proper food and water to your system or do you eat junk and solve all your problems with drugs? Plants are the same way, keep them healthy and they will have far less problems in the long run. Think good soil (read what this is) and water.

    Michael
     
  7. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I don't know privet very well but didn't think new growth was red... might this be a Photinia? In any case, when mature plants suddenly start to die it might be that they have reached some limiting factor in the environment or that something around them has changed. Classic example being MrTree's thoughts on the juniper dying when it reached the roofline - could be heat, could be cold, but whatever, it'll get more of it up there. And the old dead stuff is now protecting the new green leader - which may die off in turn if the brown is removed. If this happens, perhaps you need a tougher tree there - though I didn't think they came much tougher than juniper!

    Has there been any compaction, or installation of a driveway near the hedge? A tree removed, so it suddenly gets more sun? These are things we can only guess about. Failing that, you have in the US this marvellous thing called a County Extension Office or something like that. I think you can call someone out or take a sprig in to ask them for advice, and as they know your local conditions, soil, and weather, they might be able to help.
     
  8. thebigbuck

    thebigbuck Member

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    KarinL,

    The word "compaction" triggered this thought. I have an English Bulldog and three Dachshunds that spend time in the yard. These problem areas are right where they spend a lot of time. After analysis this morning, the soil is very hard and compacted in these areas, this might possibly be the root cause? I am learning from all of you that the soil needs to be rich and airy, which is not the case in these areas. Sounds like I need to get the soil turned over and loosened up and find a new location for the dogs. Do you agree with this theory?

    Many thanks for your time, this is great!
     
  9. mrtree

    mrtree Active Member

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    DO not turn you soil over unless it is a last resort. Appplication of organic matter can alter soil structure relatively quickly. Turning soil over by hand can damage roots needlessly. A better method is an "Airknife" or "Airspade" that can move dirt, mix in organic matter and leave roots relatively intact.

    Compacted soil is an indication of many things, but the application of bioactive organic matter can help to aleviate soil compaction without any need for expensive work such as soil removal and replacement. Find a local arborist and get some woodchips that have been decaying for at least a few months.
     
  10. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    That's right - if you get something organic like woodchips or what have you (I used to get apple pulp from a juice factory nearby) and just spread it on the surface, if you wait two weeks and look underneath, you will be amazed at the worm activity. The roots of the plants will be coming up for air, will find that better material, and colonize it.

    Your dogs could be a cause, but I'm definitely no expert. A local source might recognize problems that are endemic to your area. And if these plants turn out to be not salvagable, improving the soil in the area will still pay dividends for whatever you replant.

    And... you're welcome! Keep the thread updated with your progress.
     

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