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Moved to a new home but the plants don't look right. Are these two conifers dying?  Should I dig them out or they still can be saved?


Alina W

The first one looks beyond saving, but the second looks OK. Does it need a trim? If it does, don't go back into brown wood as it won't recover - leave a layer of green everywhere.

Alina W

They're usually done in late summer to avoid birds' nests, so July-August.

Tee Gee

Has the gravel been laid recently?

It looks like limestone chippings and this might have altered the pH of the soil, causing the conifers to react like this.


The gravel is also did by the previous owner. At least 5 or 6 years old, I think.

How can I make the soil quality get better?

Thanks a lot.

Tee Gee
I have had another look at the top picture and I am not quite sure if the lighter coloured areas are light brown( tan coloured) or pale green. If it is the former then it could be wind damage so to overcome this nip of the brown tips back to green foliage but no further. If you cut back to the dark brown area this is too much, and the tree will not replace the foliage. If the light areas are pale green this could be new growth which will grow darker as the season progresses and the tips mature. To improve the soil will be difficult short of digging around the the base which might damage the shallow roots. What I would do is rake back the gravel by 6" to 12" spread a general slow release fertiliser such as fish blood and bone. Apply this at the rate is states on the box. Do not be tempted to add more than it says as too much can do the reverse of what you want it to do. Once you have spread the fertiliser cover the area with bark chippings rather than the gravel,this will keep the area moist and save the need for watering, plus it will eventually rot down and the worms will take it into the soil. I would be interested in a closer picture of the lighter coloured areas to see what is happening. Regarding the large tree it just looks if it wants a bit of tidying up once the frost have passed say June / July time. Again only cut the tips of the branches leaving a bit of green on each cut branch. If you go back further you will create brown ares which may not green up again. I hope that helps

Thanks for the reply.

The far side of the plant is patchy - bits of pale green (as shown on the left edge of the plant in the photo) and bits of dead-looking brown. The pale green bits are new growth leaves. This is south facing so gets a lot of sunshine. The near side of the plant is brown and looks dead. This is north facing and also close to the larger tree so gets little or no direct sunshine.

Tee Gee
At first I thought it was wind damage but I think the garden wall will protect it from this. But another thought is it might be a " frost pocket" se here; I would try nipping the tips off the affected branches and hopefully ( providing you don't cut back too far it might green up again. That's about all I have to offer I'm afraid so it's fingers crossed that what I have suggested works.......Tg

Thanks you so much. I see what I can find more information about this free plant which is coming with my new house. Otherwise, I have to dig it out.

Thanks for all the suggestions and information.

The big tree is fine but the little may live but will always be ugly so best to dig it up. All that weed free gravel and a scorched tree may mean weedkiller damage, that will be one for you to watch in the future. 

Thanks for the reply.

I am doing to keep eyes on both trees for a couple of months. I will do a trim for the big one until Jul-Aug as above suggestions. The little one - the ugly one, I will see how much the pale green leaves could grow back. I don't know what the previous house owner did. Maybe it's by frost because the tree can get early morning sunshine. Maybe it's by a weedkiller. The green leaves look growing on some dead brown leaves. Strange& Interesting! I do agree the gravel isn't doing a good job for the plants. 

Tee Gee I think you have it bang on the button, most conifers do not like limestone. they like a neutral or leaning to acidic soil. Where I live which is near the coast conifers suffer from two things and alkaline soil is the cause of it all..No iron in the soil few trace elements cause poor growth and the inadequate root stock makes wind rock a certainty leading to instability and rot.


Both look like they've been planted in a desert breathing nothing but car fumes. Surely not the best environment for starters. First one looks like a gonna. 

Making soil better is quite an art in itself but you need good supported growth and a resilience to everything thrown at these trees, protection from harsh frost is a good start so what about a breathable blanket throughout winter. Take a ph sample of soil one spades depth down, see what the soil is comprised of  and what its condition is, once that is done you will know [as I do]where to go from there. Any leaning to alkalinity add peat or what it is now more commonly known as ericaceous compost, and then in a few weeks check it again. I live by the coast and people in these new houses with lovely lawns plant conifers in the borders, really you should see how bedraggled and unhealthy they look, the reason why is most people do not do their homework, therefore never know what soil will support what plants,the soil here as I previously indicated is highly alkaline, really not much grows successfully in alkaline soil,what grows in a desert will grow here in the wild but for one thing,and that is the constant cold everything else I have noticed suffers in one way or another..Take Tee Gee's advice as I said he has it bang on the button AL,       


Did they have a dog, that lifted it's leg on the bush?

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