Monday, February 16, 2009

Tree of Life? Not So Much!

Earlier this winter, two ice storms wreaked havoc on an arborvitae hedge on the east side of our house. The hedge was already looking rather sad and appeared to be declining, with lots of bare areas and several large pieces dying and breaking off. I wondered if it was diseased or had some kind of bug. I googled, and learned about bagworms. I didn't see any. Before the ice storms the hedge was still upright, except for one tree I staked after finding it leaning last summer.

Now the staked tree is the only one standing. I hoped, but didn't expect that after the ice melted the arborvitaes would right themselves. They didn't. Friday I decided to take a closer look.

George came along to commiserate with me.

Some of them are fractured at their bases, others haven't snapped yet but are badly leaning. It's not pretty, nor is the prospect of losing more of our backyard privacy. I suppose we could try to stake the ones that aren't broken. That would probably be at best a temporary solution for a couple of them, considering the shape they're in aside from the leaning. The broken ones are gonners. Arborvitae means 'tree of life' - looks more like Hedge of Horror to me.


  1. Sorry about your trees, they will grow back better than ever... I know about losing trees we got destroyed by Hurricane Fran years back. But it all worked out good as I bought a nicer place that is a wildlife paradise.

  2. Anonymous7:21 AM

    That is heartbreaking -- it's always disappointing to lose a tree. I would certainly stake the ones that survived and give them a healthy, acid-rich feeding this spring, such as RX30, just to give them a boost. And good luck with them. They are among my favourite trees. :)

  3. Poor things. It is so frustrating when this happens! I hope you can save some.

  4. Thanks Randy, I hope you're right.

    If they don't make it, I have a long wish list of shrubs that I think would do well in that area.

    Hi Nancy, thanks for the encouragement. I think I will try to save the ones that aren't broken.

    Thanks Tina. Me too!

  5. Oh dear. How depressing. Hmm. I'd have a careful look at it, and if it's definitely seriously diseased, either clobber it with something powerful, or if you don't like doing that (which I don't), grit your teeth and grub it all out. Order yourself some replacement trees that don't suffer the same disease and take a loppers and then a pick-axe to it.

    Re the loss of privacy - you could put annual climbers in pots a little inside the new trees until they grow.

    I hope you don't have to do all this though!

  6. Hi Emily, I'm hoping that I can get some help finding out what's wrong with them at my Master Gardener classes. I don't know if any of them can be saved, but I don't want to give up on them without trying to nurse them back to health.

    If I do have to replace them, there are so many beautiful shrubs I'd love to add. Adding vines temporarily is a good idea too.

  7. Oh, that's just terrible! Too bad they were'nt yews, to be cut back & regenerate. I like the idea of vines, but instead of annual vines, this looks like a good place for a hefty Clematis or 2. They look so elegant growing through Arborvitaes. I've hesitated about trying it on mine for fear of damaging the shrubs, but as yours are already damaged, you might as well give it a try.

  8. They sure are pathetic-looking MMD!

    Hmmm. . . I hadn't thought of letting some clematis grow through them. I might give that a try once I stake the ones that are salvageable. Maybe the clematis would help hide the supports.

  9. I feel your pain! This is what I hate about arborvitaes such as these. They split and sections die off until finally they are all dead and have to be removed. I'm still surprised by running into a dead stump or root from some we used to have by the pool.

    There are still four of them left, but the same thing is happening to those, too, one by one. They grow quickly though and make a nice privacy hedge for the pool, so we'll likely replace some of them if it comes to that. I've tied mine together up high on their trunks to help them not split.

  10. Hi Kylee, it's a shame. They can be so pretty, and provide nice privacy. Wish they weren't so vulnerable though.


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