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Tree dying after mulch was applied...?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by 360ci, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. 360ci

    360ci LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 998

    Hey guys. Here's one for you all!

    I have a yard that's a slow work in progress (very neglected student property). The owner wanted mulch installed around all the trees first, so I did that a few weeks ago. Before I even started, I told her this tree is half dead as it's hollow in several areas (animal condo!) yet the leaves grew fine this spring except for on the dead branches on the right side in the photo with no bark left on them! She won't let me cut the dead parts off.

    The leaves have recently started to fall off from the entire tree. There are a lot left yet, but it has the owner a bit concerned and frankly, I've never had a problem like this from installing mulch. Then again, most people agree for me to cut down the tree! It's natural shredded pine mulch, not the dyed type. Would watering the tree help, or is the tree toast? The owner would like to save it if at all possible. Even if I were remove the mulch and turn it into a flower garden? Thanks guys.
  2. greensolutions1

    greensolutions1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    trees toast
  3. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    If this mulch is fresh it could be depleting the nitrogen from the surrounding feeder root zones. Sometimes, it is almost like adding raw manure to a new flower bed........unless it has had time to break down, yet the nitrogen depletion is critical. Some leaves will fall off the tree and will grow back but this is stress to the tree.
    My hunch is this tree has been attacked by Carpenter Ants, Termites, Birds, Squirrels, and a whole lot more weather related issues before now. The tree is competing for light from that evergreen tree.............crowding is a problem!
    The first thing I notice is either weather damage or improper pruning techniques and has caused disease and canker to invade those cut wounds. This tree should have callused off those wounds long before now as it is hard competing for light with all that overgrowth of mess on the outer property line. It is improperly planted for the surroundings now. With that much dead limb matter, and the witches brooming of the other limbs, I would say let nature take its course and wait.

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