I moved into a new house recently with a row of 10 Italian Cypress bordering one side of the property for privacy.

They are mature (about 20-25 ft tall), and water regularly by the pop up sprinkler system.

Unfortunately, they don't seem to be doing very well.

They have large areas of missing foliage, brown spots in places, and some drooping branches.

What can I do to make these trees thrive?

Bay Area, CA (usda zone 9a/b)

Bald brown patches

another shot of them

1 Answer 1


These plants are so very valuable. There are a number of things that could be in play, definitely not one or two. If you are in the Bay area you just have to contact your nearest Cooperative Extension Service and get an arborist or Master Gardener out to inspect your hedge. To do this over our site is helpful but you do not want to lose these plants and you really need and to LOOK and TOUCH the plant and check your soil, your watering program, like now. Very inexpensive. What is the closest University?

You'll need to send us more pictures, more information you might not have at hand...close ups of the leaves, magnifying glass to look for insects, soil analysis.

I'd like to know your water pressure, how long the pop ups water these trees and whether these plants have had any fertilizer, what that was and how much and how long ago. They should be watered deeply and then allowed to dry before any more water is added.

Has anyone pruned? Always make sure the bottoms are wider than the above foliage and that the tools are sterilized with alcohol first!

Are you able to talk to the former owners about their maintenance practices?

  • Also, how long ago did you move into the house? Lastly, have there been any major changes to the ground that you know of (construction, etc)?
    – Ben
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:36
  • Thanks for the responses! I moved into the house in March. No changes to the ground since I've moved in. I haven't done any pruning (I read somewhere that these have to be pruned carefully). Water pressure hitting the tree bases is from a standard popup lawn sprinkler (the kinds the sprays 360° in a fine disc shaped pattern). Water is set to 15 min every other day. UC Davis is the closest University. The former owners were pretty hands off I suspect, but I'll try to reach out to them. I'll add more photos today.
    – erikcw
    Jul 25, 2017 at 16:01

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