I planted a small concolor fir late September last year. This Spring I find it has brown needles in the lower section, but only on one side,southwest. I thought it might be windburn, however the rest of the tree now looks sick. It has a dull greyish- green color everywhere, and needles will fall off if you touch them. The tips are very small and it doesn't appear to have new growth on them. It was mulched when planted and I used Myke planting fertilizer as recommended by the nursery. What can I do to help it?.
Oakland County Michigan
If there is no new growth anywhere, it sounds like the roots are not healthy or the trunk was damaged. You can carefully dig around the roots to see if any are still white, flexible and still alive. Check that the burlap and twine were removed from the trunk and the top half of the root ball.
Check the base of the trunk for damage, gnawing by rabbits or other small animals. If there is damage at the trunk, this interrupts the flow of water from the roots and can kill the tree.
You can consult a certified arborist to come on site and assess the whole tree. Search by zip code for them here- www.treesaregood.org
If the tree was not watered during dry times last year, up to when the ground froze, then it may have had too little water stored in its roots and needles to survive the winter. Another possibility is it received too much water, or was flooded, and the roots died.
Keeping it watered this summer and into late fall, protecting the trunk from animals with a loose ring of wire mesh or hardware cloth, and removing the burlap and twine, are things you can do now. If you replace it, plant a new tree in spring or as early in the season as possible ( keeping it watered ) so its roots have the maximum time to establish before winter.
I am including a tree care guide for you that describes the steps in planting and care of new trees-
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