A new customer wants me to diagnose what's wrong with these trees. Apparently her former landscaper planted these last Spring and says he doesn't know why. I need to know the real reason (I'm thinking possibly deer eating them?), and what I can do to remedy the problem.
The urine would be a good choice. Connecticut has a major deer problem, but they usually eat all the way around, and more than just one tree. They almost look like ice cream cones. That center picture also looks a little high for a deer.
#1. My first suggestion is for you to invest some time and energy and educate yourself on tree and shrub disorders and tree and shrub identification. If this isnt your area of knowledge, I would refer your customer to an arborist or someone else who knows what they are doing. Dont get in over your head. If you offer to replace it- this isnt typically something you can just go and pick up at a local Lowes or homedepot.
#2. It looks like a couple different things are occurring here. I would also suggest that you take the picture to a local nurseryman to see what his/ her opinion is.
#3. This appears to be a Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii' or Crippsii Golden False Cypress.
The interior of the plant appears to be shedding some foliage. It is not unusual for chamaecyparis or thuja to have some foliage drop in late summer and fall with said shedding occuring on the inside branches. This particular specimen may be exhibiting somewhat excessive shedding. This very well could be to insufficient watering after planting.....or excessive watering..... The exterior portion does appear to have browsing damage......more than likely white tailed deer being responsible. There could also be some bag worms in there I cant see from the picture.
Deer tracks close by would definitely be your Sherlock Holmes #1 clue.
That said- chamaecyparis are generally relatively deer resisitant. Not, deer proof.
There is nothing that will completely keep deer or rabbits from an area unless it is tall fencing. That said, I do use a variety of spray on deer repellants that I have had some effectiveness with.
I would recommend outright replacement of the specimen OR something that is much more deer resistant. This is obviously intended as a specimen and currently it looks like crap.
Typically when deer graze on plants they go all the way around......but not always. Is there similar damage on other specimens nearby?