White Birch Problem(?)

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by cthenn, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. cthenn

    cthenn Active Member

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Hi, I have a question regarding one of my birch trees in my back yard. I have 5 of them, which were planted probably 5-10 years ago (not sure), and 4 of them have started leafing out "properly". However, the 5th one is doing something very odd. There are new leaves popping out about halfway up the tree, but the whole top half is totally bare. It's rather tall, so I can't tell if the limbs and twigs are still alive, but it appears to be fine.

    I know nothing about these trees, and it's my first spring with them (we bought the house last summer), so I don't know if this is normal for this type of tree, or for this specific tree.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,714
    Likes Received:
    567
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Sounds like it died back. Trying to figure out why involves inspecting tree and growing site for clues.
     
  3. cthenn

    cthenn Active Member

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area
    These trees are no more than 15' apart, so I'm not sure it was environmental. We had a sod lawn installed around the tree last summer, so perhaps when they tilled it, they tore up some vital roots. We also had woodpeckers last year, but they seemed to damage all our trees, not just this one. And all the others are fine.

    So, would you suspect the tree will regrow or will it continue to die back? If the whole top of the tree is dead, how will it continue to grow? What becomes the new leader? Is there anything we should do, such as cutting off the dead parts, or anything else?

    Thanks again
     
  4. MarkVIIIMarc

    MarkVIIIMarc Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Sod did it.

    The tree or trees may recover. If it only affected one then that was the weakest of the bunch.

    I'd give it another few weeks to a month before I did any cutting on the tree. Then good luck finding someone who knows how to trim trees.
     
  5. cthenn

    cthenn Active Member

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Mark, when you say "sod did it", do you mean when they tilled, or covering up around the tree with sod? Is it bad to have sod around a birch tree?
     
  6. MarkVIIIMarc

    MarkVIIIMarc Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    I should be more clear, sorry, being concise is not my strong point.

    My money is on the whole sod process stressing the trees and the one in particular. Did they really till the whole area under the canopy of the tree? That had to disturb the roots something fierce. Then having a few inches of sod piled on top of the roots stresses them further. Something like all of a sudden feeder roots which are supposed to be 3 inches deep are 6 inches down. Not a big deal for any one spot of the tree, but do it to the entire root mass and it has to ad stress.

    Was the sod only put around the one tree that is showing stress?
     
  7. cthenn

    cthenn Active Member

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Sorry for the late reply!

    Yes, only the tree in the sod lawn is showing this stress. And having been a few weeks, it still looks the same. The rest of the tree is doing fine though, so hopefully something will turn around with the rest of it.

    I wasn't home when they did the work, but who knows how good a job they did...they might have been lazy and just unrolled the sod right on top of the ground instead of properly tilling and prepping it.

    This tree is also one of the smallest of the 5, so maybe it's not as hardy.
     

Share This Page