Evergreen troubles (Arb./Juniper)

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by cobalt135, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. cobalt135

    cobalt135 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 5

    These Juniper and Arborvitae were planted back in 2006. Really not sure what is going on with the Juniper, as you can see from the pic there is one that seems to be in good health but the others are thin and sick looking. There does not seem to be any dead in them though.

    As for the Arb. I am not sure what is happening with it. There is some debris from shedding stuck in the forks of the branches coming off the trunk. I am cleaning all that. This thing has had some brown spots pop up every now and then in the past. When are mites a problem in relation to season. I know about the paper and shake test but did not do that yet. One more question, there is a branch that can be seen in the pic that suffered snow load damage. Is there any way to fix that?

    Thanks for any assistance!




  2. Steve Swail

    Steve Swail LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    Hmmm....I'm certainly no expert but I've got about 10 of the junipers on a bank in my back yard & 5 of the arborvitaes growing in the front yard. My first recommendation would be to get some Holly Tone (sold at HD or most nurseries) & apply that to them per the instructions on the bag & water it in. It's not a cure all but it sure has helped mine get out of the stress from this past years drought....Good luck.
  3. Newt*

    Newt* LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

  4. cobalt135

    cobalt135 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 5

    I ended up getting some fertilizer for trees and shrubs, 12-4-8 was the analysis I am pretty sure. They had not been fertilized since mid 2006 when the landscape was redone. The other plantings, Boxwoods, Dwarf Alberta Spruce, and a few other bushes seem to be doing well so I will look up that stuff on the diseases. Thanks for responding guys...
  5. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    Is the soil around the foundation of this house the original soil from the area, or was it trucked in from somewhere else ?

    I'm not sure exactly WHERE in Ohio you are...but the western 2/3 of Ohio is limestone-based soil (where the soil is derived from limestone-dolomite bedrock).
    What this means is that the soil pH in these areas is (likely) on the higher side...which means it's (likely) "alkaline" soil...upwards of 7.0 to 8.0 or HIGHER on the pH scale !

    Quite a few evergreens...juniper, spruce, boxwood, rhododendron, azalea, etc really PREFER to grow in more acid based soil...where the pH would range down in the 5.5 to 6.5 zone.

    (exception in OHIO...Eastern Red Cedar...the "poor man's :rolleyes: Christmas tree" you always see along the highway, etc...LOVES higher pH soil !
    That's why it's the ONLY native tree in Ohio's limestone areas that's an evergreen.)

    But back to your problem:
    What confounds this alkaline problem in foundation plantings ?!?
    A concrete foundation itself gradually, over time, exudes lime as it ages!... Ever-affecting the pH toward the "higher" side as time goes by!

    I suspect that's excatly what's going on with your junipers.

    I recommend that you have a professional soil test taken...using 5 to 6 good soil cores taken randomly about 5" deep or so.
    IF the pH is sky-high...like I suspect...the answer is NOT necessarily feeding them with an expensive "acid fertilizer" like HollyTone, etc...

    The FIRST thing you've got to do in a extremely high pH situation in a already-planted "clayey" landscape is to add split-pea SULFUR to the soil, in gradual increments over an extended period, to lower the pH to a level that the plant(s) will be better able to "accept" the 16 macro and mirco nutrients more "evenly".

    (When you open the bag and smell the sulfur...it'll remind you of the 4th of July :usflag:, or ROTTEN EGGS :cry:(whatever you envision :laugh: !!!)

    Now..... if one is planting a NEW bed around a concrete foundation, in "limestone country" somewhere, using junipers, etc....
    One would be smart to use cottonseed meal mixed with the natural soil strata thoroughly, maybe a little peat moss as an aerifier. (Cottonseed meal is a natural acidifier, and is part of HollyTone's ingredient list.)

    ****But be CAREFUL not to add "fluffy" organics to an already-waterlogged "clayey" situation in an EXISTING bed !!!
    You'll likely DROWN 'em !!!
    In THESE cases you're simply better off with the SULFUR !!!****

    Good luck!
  6. cobalt135

    cobalt135 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 5

    Marcos, when all this was installed the landscapers removed all the old shrubbery and mulch. They put down compost and tilled that into the soil, followed by the plants, fertilizer, and mulch. I was wanting to do some PH tests on the lawn but never really gave any thought to the beds as well. Trouble is finding a local reliable source for these tests. I was looking for some test kits a few weeks ago but just got busy and put it on the back burner.
  7. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    I would contact either CLC Labs in Westerville, or someone closer to you on this list, to get instructions on how you should collect and send them :


    pH could STILL be a problem, even with "imported and amended" soil, especially because of the proximity of the foundation to the root structure of the plants in question.

    The fact that your arborvitae appears not-as-affected as the junipers in the pictures.... gives me a VISUAL signal that it (could) be pH related....because arborvitae are MUCH more pH tolerant than junipers !!!

    (but WATCH OUT for bagworms:cry: on the arb come mid-late summer !!)

    I WILL tell you that you should not "crumple" the soil samples up into dust-just leave them as "cores"

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