Pine trees are falling

Asked April 27, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT

We have about 21 pine trees in the back of our property. Our property seems to be a low-point, and we sometimes get standing water (or squishy grass). 4 of our pine trees are now leaning, the largest has uprooted partially, and is currently braced into position. It seems clear that they are not well-suited to the conditions. Is there any way to save them, or do we need to cut them down and replace with trees that don't mind wet feet? I hate to cut down so many trees. I've included a pic of the largest one (the very back one in the corner), but have pics of the others that I wasn't able to upload.

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response

Pines and evergreens in a wet location


Unfortunately if the area can't be drained without removing the trees, your best bet is to remove the trees in the wet area and either plant wet tolerant plants or berm the area and plant on top of the berm.
Hopefully at least part of the area could be drained using a berm, a swale or a drainage pipe. If these are Colorado blue spruce their life span here in Michigan is limited at best. Often, at about 15-20 years old or so, they begin to decline, with branches dying from the bottom up. So, if you must remove the trees you are doing so only a little earlier than would be needed, anyway. If these are Colorado blue spruce, I would not go to the expense of transplanting them.

Contact a certified arborist to evaluate the trees and the site. You may be able to install a drainage system or berm to divert the water from the root zone. Or, the healthy trees may be able to be transplanted to a more suitable site. A certified arborist can evaluate the health of the trees and determine if they would be worth saving. He/she can also advise you on how to drain the area of the excess water. Search for arborists in your zip code here :

Here are some suggestions from Extension for dealing with wet areas in the landscape:

-Divert runoff using perforated drainpipes laid on or under the soil.

-Dig shallow trenches or build retaining walls to channel away problem water.

-Plant tree balls high (several inches of root ball left above ground and covered with mulch) or construct planting berms.

-Select trees tolerant of wet sites.

If you need to plant wet tolerant plants, look at the rain garden plant list in the following link. It has a list of trees and shrubs; choose ones coded 'w' or 's' for wet soils:

There are only a few evergreens hardy in our growing zone (zone 5-6) that tolerate wet soils. Look at American holly, Winterberry, Chamaecyparis thyoides, Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae).

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