I have black hills spruce trees. This year the bottom branches have started...

Asked August 29, 2013, 2:15 PM EDT

I have black hills spruce trees. This year the bottom branches have started dying. Is it the bunny who is roaming? Or is it that I had to have a septic system put in-it is tanks with a drainage field-maybe they disturbed the roots when they put the system in. It seems to be just in that area where they were working.. What can I do now? Thanks.

Sibley County Minnesota

1 Response

Black Hills Spruce is a fine hardy evergreen and it usually doesn't have much of a problem in the landscape. It is difficult to diagnose what the problem may be with your spruce. Rabbits can do significant damage to plants, but it is rare that they would feed on spruce. Here is more on rabbit damage:
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/wl47.pdf

If roots were damaged by construction, that certainly could be the cause, but there are many other possibilities. If the tree hasn't been receiving enough water during the drought months, that could cause drying of the lower branches. There are fungal diseases that could also be the cause. Here are some to check on:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1265.html

Spider mites can also cause needles to brown and die:
http://www.entomology.umn.edu/cues/Web/204SpruceSpiderMite.pdf

I would check the needles on the tree for any signs or symptoms of insect or disease problems. In the meantime, provide plenty of water to the tree if we don't receive at least one inch of rain per week. If you do not find any signs of a pest or disease, you may need to hire a certified arborist to verify what the cause is.