Cupressus arizonica glabra "blue ice"
I have a Blue Ice Cyprus or "cupressus arizonica glabra "blue ice". We have had the tree for a couple years. We had it relocated about 1 1/2 years ago. This spring, we started noticing more dead needles on the interior of the tree. I had even pruned them out to monitor things. The dead needles only seem to be getting worse. It has some growth, but not much. When it was dry we kept it watered. It's soft when you touch it, but I don't think as soft as it once was, but somewhat fragrant still. I could tell when it was getting enough water as it barely had any smell. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I really don't want to lose this tree.
We think there are likely multiple things going on, including problems with establishment and planting/mulching.
We can't tell from your photo how large it is, but the larger the tree, the more difficult to move with intact roots and keep happy. Larger trees need larger root balls to go with them, so you may have left a great deal of it's support system back in the first hole. Evergreens can hide stress for a long time.... think of the ones used for Christmas trees, which might be commercially cut in Oct. and still be looking green into January.
It also looks like it is either planted too deeply or mulched too deeply, which can kill a tree over a long period of time, by suffocating the roots. Tree trunks should have a visible, gentle 'flare' or widening as they go into the ground, not straight up and down like a telephone pole.
Mulch should only be 2-3 inches deep, and not in contact with the trunks or stems of plants. Pull it back and remove any extra. If the mulch is too deep it can also suck up the water before it gets to the tree.
We suggest continuing to monitor, and water, especially this time of year. Slow, deep watering is best. You should push a screwdriver into the soil, and be sure it is moist and cool down at least 8 inches when you are done.
You might try a 'gator bag', or move a trickling hose, or drip hose around the base of the tree.
We have gravel around the tree not mulch. Tree is probably 10 feet tall now. it has grown some since it was moved.
Is the tree in shock and should we do anything for that?
The tree is stressed. You should not fertilize it. Just give it water when needed and wait.