I have a young Tilia. It was not sufficiently watered :/ The top stem seems dead but also the rest seems of the tree seems a bit "on hold". It's hard to see on the photo, too much green but there are only a few leaves towards the bottom. Any advice to make him happy again ? Should I just trim the top and let nature do his work? Many thanks -

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1 Answer 1


I would not trim your Tilia this year. It could be that the entire trunk is dead, but parts of it could still be alive. You won't know for sure for at least a few months. Just water moderately and see how much of it grows back. I generally wait to prune dead wood until the bark has started to peel and the twigs snap easily. That way it's obvious that the wood is dead, and you don't accidentally cut something that still had living bark and could have recovered. In the meantime, be sure to water it during dry spells, especially in very hot weather. (No judgement. I don't always remember to water my plants during a heat wave, either.)

If only the roots grow back, your sapling has lost several years of growth. You'll have to decide whether you want wait several years regain the lost growth, or start over with a new sapling.

If you decide to plant another sapling, I recommend waiting until cooler weather in the fall. Even if you plant it when the other trees have all lost their leaves, that's a fine time to plant a tree. The new sapling can work on establishing its root system without worrying about maintaining a lot of foliage. Then it has "firm footing" to get started in the spring.

Some bonus advice: In your photo, it looks like there is turfgrass growing almost right up to the trunk of the tree. Turfgrass will compete with the tree for water. I recommend removing the grass at least 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) out from the trunk. Once the grass is removed, you can put down some mulch and/or a ring of bricks, or one of those plastic weed barriers, to help keep the grass at bay. (Read up on best practices when mulching around a tree. Don't put the mulch right up against the trunk.) You'll still need to pull back the grass occasionally, but the mulch or barrier will help. You can use herbicide to maintain a grass-free zone around the tree, but make sure to not spray the tree leaves, and pick an herbicide that will kill grass and is safe to spray near tree root/trunks.

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    +!, but note that the US Arbor Day Foundation recommends a mulch of wood chips; the landscape fabric/plastic will kill the soil by restricting oxygen exchange between the air and the soil.
    – Jurp
    Jun 18, 2022 at 23:44
  • @jurp I actually meant the style of weed barrier that's more like a fence. It gets inserted vertically into the ground about 4 inches, which prevents weeds/grass from spreading by roots/rhizomes/runners. I'm not recommending landscaping fabric.
    – csk
    Jun 22, 2022 at 21:06
  • Ohhhhhh - that's entirely different from landscape fabric, of course. In my area, we just call that "edging", but you know, when you think about it, "weed barrier" fits, too. :) I've just never heard it called that before. And I definitely agree with you - keeping grass and weeds out of the planting area is a great idea.
    – Jurp
    Jun 23, 2022 at 1:17

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