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What Is Evergreen Browning And How To Fix It

Like palm trees in tropical climes, evergreen trees are a beautiful symbol of where we live, and they offer a welcome dose of greenery in winter. That is, unless, your evergreen has become an “everbrown”. 

Evergreen browning happens when normally green needles start turning to brown needles. It can happen to one small section of the tree, a branch or, in severe cases, the entire tree. Needles will often first turn yellow, then brown as the issue progresses. 

How to Fix Evergreen Browning

While there are many reasons why evergreen needles might turn brown, they mostly fall into one of two main categories: disease and dehydration.

Evergreen Browning Due to Dehydration

Evergreen dehydration can happen over the winter months and it causes the browning of needles in two ways. 

First, when the ground freezes around the evergreen’s root zone, it can make it difficult for the roots to get water from the ground, and the nutrients the water brings. The lack of water is compounded by dry winter conditions, including strong, cold winds, which cause the needles to lose moisture.

The best defence against evergreen dehydration is proper tree care and watering, especially in hot, dry summer conditions and in late fall, before freezing temperatures set in.

Evergreen Browning Due to Disease

There are many different diseases that can brown an evergreen’s needles.  Two of the most common and easy to identify diseases are root rot and rust. 

  • Root Rot: In addition to brown needles, you can identify root rot by the canker-like growths it causes on the visible roots and soft damp wood just beneath the bark.

    You can help to treat root rot by removing damp soil from around the root system and letting the roots dry out. 
  • Rust: As a fungus, you can spot rust on an evergreen by the powder-like spores that form on the needles. The best way to get rid of rust is to prune off affected areas of the tree.

    But, unless you’re experienced in the proper pruning of evergreens, we recommend that you have a professional landscaping service do the pruning to minimize the stress on the tree, which can cause even more damage.  

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about keeping your home’s landscape healthy and green, check out our article “How to Properly Maintain Your Hedges”. 


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