I had one tree and two bushes next to each other. One of the bushes died as a casualty of some underground pipe work, so I removed it. The other two are bare where they had been up against the third. It's been a few years and those bare spots have not grown back. The other sections of both plants seem to be doing well enough. The bare spots are on the shady (north) side. Is there a way to to bring the bare spots back to life?

Dead parts of tree (arborvitae?) and bush (unknown species) Dead parts of tree and bush

Fronts of tree and bush for identification Front of tree and bush for identification

  • What species of shrubs are they?
    – Niall C.
    Feb 13, 2017 at 20:49
  • @NiallC. I don't know. Added a picture, if someone can identify I will edit the title. Some kind of evergreen.
    – stannius
    Feb 13, 2017 at 20:55
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    Its very difficult to tell what they are because the photo is poor quality, but they look like they may be coniferous - if they are, dead parts don't regrow n those, but please post a clearer photo if you can
    – Bamboo
    Feb 13, 2017 at 21:21
  • Sorry, I didn't realize the picture was so bad until I posted it. I'll get a better one.
    – stannius
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:28
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    Your hedge as well as all of your shrubs need to be pruned so that the TOP of the hedge or shrub is narrower than the bottom. So slightly angled for sun to reach the lower part of the hedge or shrub to ensure the foliage at the bottom doesn't start thinning.
    – stormy
    Feb 17, 2017 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


This looks like Arborvitae and a Tam Juniper. No, there really is not a way to get them to revive at these spots. If you were to prune so that the tops are narrower than the bottoms of these shrubs that would help a bit but these shrubs are quite mature and this looks like their shady side. I'd get a soft, deciduous shrub to fill that space such as a bridal veil spiraea planted at least 3 or 4 feet away from these two shrubs.

What I am worried about is a fairly horrid disease called phytophthora which affects arborvitae an awful lot. The juniper is bare just because of lack of sun. Tell us more about the arborvitae you lost, what did you notice first, how long did it take for complete kill? Phytophthora is still in that soil. Watch the rest of your arborvitae closely. Take pics and send. Or get a soil sample and send to your nearest cooperative extension service (part of a University in your area).

  • Why do you suspect phytophthora is in the soil?
    – stannius
    Feb 13, 2017 at 23:27
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    "died as a casualty of some underground pipe work" is not a disease, so that's a long jump, stormy.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 14, 2017 at 1:47
  • Not seen many mature plants die from pipe work, I have seen lots of arborvitae die from phytophthora. Most 'pipe work' is usually 1" irrigation pipe and should not bother much of anything. If this is sewer lines or main water lines, sure. Phytophthora is odd because JUST one plant dies and then another...etc. And it could easily come from the shoes of the dudes fixing the pipe from another property. Otherwise, sure it is a long jump, grins!!
    – stormy
    Feb 14, 2017 at 17:54
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    The pipe work was a few years ago. I think if one of these two was going to die of it, it would have done so by now.
    – stannius
    Feb 15, 2017 at 17:53
  • I don't know about planting any shrub between the existing shrubbery and the porch. That would be a tight squeeze.
    – J. Musser
    Feb 16, 2017 at 11:33

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