Arborvitaes need help!

Asked October 3, 2019, 2:13 AM EDT

We have a row of 11 arborvitaes in our yard. They are 9 years old and 6 feet tall. Our neighbor hates our trees and has let us know. He recently power washed his fence drenching the 5 that are in front of his fence. Shortly after those turned completely brown while the rest are still green and beautiful. I believe he must have used a cleaner. Is there any hope for them? I have attached a photo.

Jefferson County Kentucky

3 Responses

The pictured arborvitae that are brown are not viable. Most likely the tissue is already dry and brittle. I would remove them as soon as you can so as not to invite disease and insects to the surviving arborvitae along the fence.

This could be exposure to chemicals or a reaction to our excessive rain then drought through the last 18 months. At this point there may or may not be any chemical left to test in the soil.

UK tests soil for nutrients and pH so we cannot tell you if chemical exposure was an issue here. A private lab can help you with that if you choose to pursue it.

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
Email: carol.wilder@uky.edu

502-569-2344
4200 Gardiner View Avenue

Louisville KY 40213



Hi Carol, thank you for responding. He stripped his fence mid August and within 2 weeks they were almost completly brown. Is it too late to test soil / trees? I fear if I don't address this now it's just a matter of time before he kills them all. He has planted something that's very fast growing next to the remaining trees. (See attached) If you know a local lab or have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. I love my trees and seeing them like this breaks my heart.
Thanks again, Nancy

You would want to have the soil tested as soon as possible. UK does not do soil testing for chemical contaminates so I have no experience with the process or if it is too late. A lot would depend on the chemical(s) used.

If he has planted plants on his property there is little you can do.

I am sorry but we can not endorse any specific retail labs or businesses. There are quite a few and I would do an online search for one in KY.

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
Email: carol.wilder@uky.edu

502-569-2344
4200 Gardiner View Avenue

Louisville KY 40213