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My Evergreens are Turning Brown

Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A

We receive lots of calls from concerned homeowners about evergreens turning brown in the fall.Conifers are not really ‘evergreen’.

They experience a seasonal needle drop similar to that of deciduous trees. Depending on the species, all conifers will shed the older inside needles. Each species has different cycles so it may seem worse one year over another and more often.

There can be other factors that contribute to the number and frequency of needle shed periods. These include drought, pest infestations, disease and lack of sunlight. Another contributor to needle shed can be root injury or soil compaction that results from construction or landscape projects.

Root and Trunk damage during landscaping

If needle colour changes are at the tips or entire branches turn brown, a closer inspection by a Certified Arborists may be warranted.

Once a diagnosis is made, a plant health care program can be developed that includes a range of remedies if needed. It may be a simple as adjusting where and how much you water.

Always follow good cultural practices to keep trees healthy. These include:

  1. regular irrigation based on tree size applied between the trunk and drip line

  2. have your tree pruned routinely

  3. avoiding root injuries or soil compaction by having a tree protection plan in place prior to any activities within 3 metres of the trunk of a tree

Be observant to changes throughout the season and from year to year. Seek help for unusual patterns. Better to find out if it IS a problem than wait until is is too late to address.


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