What is killing our yews and Leyland cypresses?

Asked June 15, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT

My neighbors and I, as well as others in this area, are seeing our yews and Leyland cypresses dying off. Is there a bug going around like the Dutch elm disease of the past? Water, dryness, and drainage are not an issue. No winter damage either.

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

This looks like either winter dieback (many evergreen had winter burn after last winter) or a root problem. (No, there is no new yew disease or insect problem.)

Prune off the dead needles (don't prune back to the trunk.) If it is winter damage, you should get some new growth. Yews can tolerate a lot of pruning and will send out new foliage.

If the branches do not put out new growth, that indicates that the branches are dead and your yew probably has a root problem. Yews hate "wet feet" (roots sitting in soggy/water-logged soils that don't drain well.) Sometimes soil gets compacted or grade changes and they get more water than previously.