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What causes a tree to die from the top down?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by CSRA Landscaping, Jul 14, 2002.

  1. CSRA Landscaping

    CSRA Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    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 ...
     
  2. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    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.
     
  3. CSRA Landscaping

    CSRA Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    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.
     
  4. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 472

    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
     
  5. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    If I had one guess I'd say over watered, or the holes they are in are too wet.
     
  6. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,226

    yes, over watered, that is the correct answer.
     
  7. CSRA Landscaping

    CSRA Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    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.
     
  8. agrostis palustris

    agrostis palustris Banned
    Posts: 117

    Root damage. Can certainly come from improper installation and may take years to show itself as is the case here.
     
  9. lawnstudent

    lawnstudent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 472

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

    jim
     
  10. agrostis palustris

    agrostis palustris Banned
    Posts: 117

    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.
     

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