Tall Arborvitae trees

Asked October 8, 2020, 9:22 PM EDT

Hi, I have 10 tall arborvitae's that line my back fence line. I have been in my house for 7 years and they have been there since I moved in so I don't know their exact age. In one of the middle Arborvitae's there is a bare spot about 10 feet up to about 14 feet up completely bare. This is the first year this has happened the tree was full every year up until this year. This spot is too high up for a deer to get too and I have a fenced in yard. I am baffled as to what caused this all of a sudden early in the spring I would notice branches and needles just randomly falling off of it...I first noticed about a 2-3 foot bare spot and it has grown to about 6-8 foot bare spot...it seems to have stopped over the last month. So I am just curious what could cause my tall Arborvitae to go bare 10-14 feet in the air all of a sudden? Rest of the tree is green and seems fine.

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response


Arborvitae (Thuja species) prefer fertile, moist, well-drained soils in full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade. Often, when they are not planted in ideal conditions, they are susceptible to disease and insects. Environmental conditions, such as weather and attack by animals. may also affect the trees.

It sounds like your trees are being attacked by squirrels. At this time of year, squirrels are preparing for winter by collecting food and material for nests. They bite off twigs for their nests.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to control squirrels or deter them from living in trees. You could try some squirrel repellent.

This damage will probably not harm the trees. If you can reach the area in question, you could prune off the broken branches and reshape the tree.

You can also contact a certified arborist for another opinion at www.treesaregood.org , the website of the International Society of Arboriculture to find a certified arborist in your area.

I’m sorry that I cannot be more helpful in this situation.

Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.