Top of arborvitaes dying

Asked June 26, 2020, 7:16 AM EDT

The tops of my arborvitaes are dying. I did have a crow issue and found Many broken off branches on the ground. Help!

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response

A combination of wind, sun, freezing temperatures, and lack of available water in winter can cause arborvitae foliage (and the leaves of other evergreens, as well) to turn brown. This happens because they are drying out.

Crows breaking off limbs could certainly cause those limbs to die and turn brown. The puzzling thing is that it appears you have green (live) tissue above the dead area. I suppose this could definitely be the area where the crows did their damage and above that area remains healthy. But I am not able to be sure of the problem from photos (although you photos are excellent, and your trees are beautiful).

Your arborvitaes do appear to be overcrowded and there's even a very large evergreen hovering over the top of them. They could possibly be suffering from a lack of moisture or nutrients due to the crowding. In addition, lack of air circulation around crowded trees gives room for fungal diseases to set in.

Your best resource for diagnosing and treating your trees is to consult a certified arborist. An arborist is a certified and generally insured expert in trees and their problems. He or she can examine your tree and make recommendations regarding the health of the tree, any needed judicial pruning, and whether or not (in his opinion) it should be removed. You can find a certified arborist in your area here:

Click on "Find an Arborist" at the top of the page; then click on United States from the pull-down menu. Then enter your State and City. This should bring up a list of certified arborists nearest to you. Or you may be able to locate one under "Tree Services" in your local Yellow Pages.