Holly bush dying
I have been reading a lot to try and figure out what is causing our bush to lose is leaves. From what I have read, I am inclined to think it is a low acidity level in the soil. However, this bush has been here for many, many years and with the exception of adding bark mulch (not sure what type of bark) to the surrounding beds we have not changed anything. The bush get great drainage as it is planted at the top of a small incline. Should I test the soil before attempting to lower the pH? Or can I safely give that a try? Or, based upon the images, would you suggest I am off track with the pH issue? Many thanks,
Montgomery County Maryland
We viewed your photos. This does not look like a pH issue. This looks like the holly declined due to a possible trunk or root problem. Also, the holly tree looks like it may have been planted too deeply. You should be able to see the flare of the trunk where it joins the root system. Mulch should be no thicker than 2-3 inches and away from the base of the trunk. See our publication on these types of problems http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG86%20Common%20Abio...
The tree will not recover. Consider replacement.