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View Full Version : What causes a tree to die from the top down?


CSRA Landscaping
07-14-2002, 01:51 PM
What is the cause of a tree like a bradford pear or an oak, maple, etc. to begin a decline, dying from the top down? Is it the drought, or improper installation? Bugs? Disease? Thanks ...

KenH
07-14-2002, 03:03 PM
Really hard to tell without some pics. Did it keep its leaves???

Was there any recent site work done?? ie Change of grade??

Did the leaves look eaten or distorted???

Was there any rot around the trunk????

Are other trees in the area dying???

How old is the tree??? Type??

Has is just been fertilized???? Just a few ?'s which first come to mind.

CSRA Landscaping
07-14-2002, 04:36 PM
I'll answer what ?'s I can ...

Did it keep its leaves??? It's not any specific tree ... I've seen several in the area do this; oaks (shumard, I think), maple (Silver leaf, I think), and bradfrods especially. And no, they don't keep the leaves. It looks like a total die-out starting from the top and moving down. Wood is dry and brittle and it's bare.

Was there any recent site work done?? No.
Change of grade?? No.

Did the leaves look eaten or distorted??? No. Just gone.

Was there any rot around the trunk???? Didn't notice any.

Are other trees in the area dying??? Sure, there were multiple trees in one area dying.

How old is the tree??? This is the one common factor that comes to mind. They did seem to be relatively young trees, definitely didn't have 5 years on them yet, after the nursery. Think it may have been transplant shock? Lack of water?

Type?? Like I said, Oak, Maple, bradford, etc.

Has is just been fertilized???? No.

lawnstudent
07-14-2002, 06:27 PM
What's the weather been like? Hot & dry? Have the trees been watered? What type of soil are they planted in? Was there a drainage problem? Did you remove the tree and look at the roots? What was the condition of the roots? Was the burlap and string left on the tree when it was planted? Did this string strangle the tree? Did the roots grow out of the original hole? Did the roots strangle the tree? Are there any roots (root rot)?

jim

paul
07-14-2002, 08:36 PM
If I had one guess I'd say over watered, or the holes they are in are too wet.

joshua
07-14-2002, 08:56 PM
yes, over watered, that is the correct answer.

CSRA Landscaping
07-14-2002, 10:52 PM
If they've been overwatered, I'll eat my hat. Some of them were in sandy soil, so no drainage problems there. No burlap or string on them, either. I'm wondering if it has to do with improper installation, since they were relatively young trees.

agrostis palustris
07-14-2002, 11:03 PM
Root damage. Can certainly come from improper installation and may take years to show itself as is the case here.

lawnstudent
07-14-2002, 11:04 PM
Originally posted by CSRA Landscaping
If they've been overwatered, I'll eat my hat. Some of them were in sandy soil, so no drainage problems there. No burlap or string on them, either. I'm wondering if it has to do with improper installation, since they were relatively young trees.

Sandy soil is very well drained and does not hold moisture well. Were the trees watered?

jim

agrostis palustris
07-14-2002, 11:07 PM
How big of root balls would you say each tree has? Keep in mind 1" diameter = 1' of root ball diameter give or take about 4 inches. If the trees are of good size possibly inspection of the roots may be in order. This can be done with an air spade. The thing costs about $1,400.00 and requires a tow behind compressor to run. Can't rent em, gotta buy.

Lanelle
07-14-2002, 11:09 PM
Now that you have established the sandy soil scenario, I'll venture the following guess. Possibly the available nutrients have leached away or been used up and the trees have starved and maybe endured too much drought to survive without any nutritional reserve left. Maybe a fertilization and on-going watering program could save some of the remaining trees that are showing signs of decline.

lawnstudent
07-14-2002, 11:22 PM
CSRA Landscaping,

is Augusta zone 8 or 9? My American Hort Society map shows both along the GA. border. I don't have enough detail to know the exact zone of Augusta. Bradford pears are listed for zone 5 - 8. Is it possible it's just too warm a climate for this tree in Augusta? I don't know. You live there, are Bradfords normally a long lived tree in this area?

jim

KenH
07-15-2002, 02:27 PM
Is it possible the trees were planted too deep??

CSRA Landscaping
07-15-2002, 06:09 PM
Possible, Lanelle. I've seen several trees like this throughout the area, though I doubt all were in sand. Just the ones that I pulled up here at the house, which were here when we bought the place.

Jim, the folks that lived here nefore did zero upkeep on anything in this yard. Augusta is zone 7b/8a, maybe a little warmer now, since they came out with that new map. Bradfords do great around here, I just don't care for them. Also, keep in mind, this has affected oaks and maples, too. There's a road in North Augusta that has a bunch of oaks that were installed last year and the majority of them seem to be dying off even now.

Ken, I don't think the trees were planted too deep ... if I had to guess, I would say neglect, and maybe someone whipped some of them into place when installing.

AP, the root balls on the bradfords were kinda puny, I thought. The trunks were probably 3-4 inches, maybe. I noticed some of the taproots did a kind of a spiral effect.

Paul, no, none of them are my trees.

paul
07-15-2002, 06:13 PM
Are these your trees? I mean did you plant them? Here in the Midwest when a tree dies from the top down we find most offen the root ball is too wet, infact we have one site right now we are looking into that has the very same thing happening. Our observations of the site and docutmentation shows water sitting in the bottom of the holes half way up the root ball. A high water table on the site, that didn't show it's self untill 6 months later.