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We planted a cedar hedge this spring (4 months or so ago). The trees were fine this summer, some of them had one or two dried branches; nothing out of ordinary. At the end of the summer, some trees started to have yellow foliage. A quick search online lead me to believe this was the cold hardening process. Although, lately, we had a lot of rain and the foliage started to dry from the center of the tree toward the outside. (Inner foliage is mostly affected right now.)

Almost every day I check the soil's humidity and it is humid at less than one inch dept. I'm starting to think that they have too much water and maybe not enough air. My parents planted a cedar hedge before and I don't remember the trees drying like that on first year.

Is there something I can do about this or am I simply over protecting my cedar hedge?

As requested, here's a few pictures:

This is the overall look, there's a lot of dried areas.

General look

This one is the worst of the group. As you can see, the inside is almost all dried out; only the outer foliage is still green.

Most dried out

The average one...

Another dried

This one has some yellow foliage.

This one has yellow


Update - Oct 2014

This year, the same thing happen at about the same time (sep-oct). Over the summer, everything was fine. By the end of September, I added some autumn lawn fertilizer. The week after trees started to dry form the inside again. I think the autumn lawn fertilizer is the culprit. Next year, I won't put any fertilizer on my lawn after July. If my cedar hedge doesn't dry out, it will confirm my doubts.

I tried the pH test and it was about 6.5ish, which seems to be normal.

  • Sure, I will take a picture tomorrow as it is dark outside for me right now. As for the soil, it's mostly clay-ish. We did a trench about 18" wide and roughly 1' deep which we filled with top soil some peat moss and bone meal. – Maxime Morin Sep 23 '13 at 1:07
  • I'd like to know where you are in the world - are you UK based? What watering regime did you carry out after planting in the Spring? – Bamboo Sep 23 '13 at 10:52
  • I live in Québec, Canada a bit north-east of Montréal. If I remember right, we watered them the first two weeks every two days; we really made sure the whole trench was humid. For the remaining, of the summer, we watered them if there was no rain for a week. (I didn't forget the picture; it's coming later today.) – Maxime Morin Sep 23 '13 at 14:44
  • Did you buy these from a grower? They have the spindly look of wild cedar. This affects the type of root system.. – kevinsky Sep 24 '13 at 17:58
  • I did bought them from a grower. Although, now that you mention it, they were planted in a pretty wild fashion. I mean, they were not in a single line nor all same height. It was fairly random. – Maxime Morin Sep 24 '13 at 20:40
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My guess is something related to your soil. I'd get the soil tested and see what the results are. It's very possible that it is just over watering but that looks like a decent investment and a soil test is relatively cheap.

If you have a university near by that does horticulture type work they probably provide cheap soil tests and advice.

  • Thanks for your answer, I didn't consider asking an university for a test. I did my own pH test using a pH meter and the results were normal. I will ask around for a more detailed test. My current hypothesis is the wind that's causing this dryness and loss of foliage. – Maxime Morin Feb 14 '14 at 17:20
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Late lawn fertilizer was the issue. For two years now, I stop adding fertilizer to my lawn after July and since then they are looking much better. The inner foliage started to grow back again.

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