I planted arborvitae a year ago that died (five total). I replanted all of them (new trees) this year and three of them are now dying again.
The dirt up here is practically just sand and clay once you get 3-4 inches down. According to a geographical survey, soil in my geographic region is "clayey till, and sandy and loamy till, with areas of sand and gravel. Other deposits include lake clay, silt, and alluvium."
Planted Killed Them All The First Time
- I dug a trench for them that was 12-16 inches deep (so the entire base of each tree would be below the ground).
- I figured that since my soil was horrible I would need to give them fresh dirt in order to survive. So each tree was planted in and surrounded by fresh potting soil (with MiracleGro in it because I know nothing about trees!).
- I watered them almost daily (I even paid a neighbor's daughter to water them while I was away for a short period of time).
Reflections on Death (Round One)
I was very surprised that all of the trees died in round one. So I talked to a landscaper and she told me that I made two major mistakes:
- I drowned the trees in water (12-16 inches is too deep for these trees).
- I 'shell-shocked' them with good soil as this was not their natural habitat (I should have let them grow into the natural soil from the start).
- Not having time to give my arborvitae swimming lessons, I created a berm and planted the trees on the berm so that only the bulb/tip of each trees' roots would be below ground level (at the recommendation of the previously mentioned landscaper).
- I used mostly natural soil (I had to use some fresh dirt for berming, but I bought the cheap stuff which smelled like manure).
- I have been watering every other day or so, but three of them (one on the end and one in the middle of two other trees) are starting to turn brown. I've exhausted my knowledge (which is zilch).
- The berm soil has been eroding unfortunately.
All the trees:
A closeup of one of the browning ones:
- Did the landscaper give me good advice? If not, what do you recommend?
- Is there any hope for my browning trees in round two?
All the trees in round two have since died. I also found out that my neighbor had planted his four times and they died every time, so I'm wondering if our soil conditions are the culprit here. Anyways, both my neighbor and I have given up on arborvitae and he planted bushes (I just covered my holes with dirt and am actually now trying to sell the home—so I'll probably just put down grass seed). It's really unfortunate, because I have a warranty for five new trees—I just don't have time nor the patience to kill another batch. Unfortunately the advice I received here conflicted and no one fully answered my questions. If anyone knows how to make these grow in my soil conditions and can offer an authoritative and canonical response that fully answers my initial questions, I'll gladly accept the answer. But until then, I hope this post and its answers help someone else....