Pine trees are a type of tree known as an evergreen. This is when they stay green all year round and these trees have green needles. Many people like to have these trees for privacy. They also add a lovely unique texture to the scenery and smell like Christmas. Since the needles are usually green, people can get concerned when they see them turning a different colour. Another colour you might see is brown needles, leading you to wonder if it is dead or not. Our team at Five Star Tree Services wants to talk about ways you can tell if your pine tree is dead or dying and how you can nurse it back to health.
Signs & Symptoms of a Sick Pine Tree
It can be hard to tell if your pine tree is dying. This will require an assessment to see if there is damage. The reason for the difficulty is due to there being a number of different issues causing the appearance.
It’s important to be able to quickly recognize the symptoms in order to determine if it is in fact dying and so you can try to save it in time.
Symptoms that indicate a problem:
-Sap Leakage: when there is damage to trunks or branches, you will notice the sap coming out of the tree. It is a natural would protector, kind of like when you cut yourself and you bleed.
-Needle Discolouration: if your tree isn’t getting enough water or it has a disease, you will see the green needles become discoloured and brown.
-Pine Cone Spots: if your pine tree has a fungal disease, you can see black spots on the pinecones.
-Early Dropping Needles: it is normal for pine trees to shed some needles in the late summer or early fall. However, if it is dropping needles during other times of the year, this can indicate improper irrigation, needle blight, nitrogen deficiency, or an insect infestation.
-Bark Problems: if you see irregularities in the bark, or holes in the bark, you can usually find pitch tubes from pine bark beetles or if you see bark crevices, they are from ambrosia beetles.
In order to properly treat a tree, after you establish the initial cause, you then need to figure out how extensive the damage is. For example, if your pine tree has mostly red or brown needles, the chance of recovery is much less. But if you have a pine tree that has a few red or yellow needles throughout the canopy, you will have a better chance of recovering it.
It’s important to note that pine trees will shed their older needles on an annual basis, in late summer or early fall, and this is completely normal. They will then add new needles in the spring to replace the ones they dropped.
Reasons for a Half Dead Pine Tree
There are a few different reasons that your pine tree can look like half of it is dead. Pine trees are sun worshipers, they love to be in full sun all the time. But when their lower branches don’t get enough sunlight, they will end up dying away. They can also have vertically browning branches that will leave an entire side dead or dying. This is also from lack of proper light. One way to fix this problem is to make sure all its branches get their sunlight. This might involve trimming neighbouring trees back or even relocating your pine tree to a sunnier spot in your yard. Also, for vertical discolouration, it could be due to insufficient water distribution, if you don’t have irrigation surrounding your tree.
Needle blight, a fungal infestation, can also be the reason your pine tree looks half dead. Also, insects like the bark beetle can cause pine trees to die.
How Is Your Evergreen Dying? Top Down or Bottom Up?
There is a pattern of symptoms that can help indicate if your pine tree is dead. One is if it is browning from the top down or the bottom up. Depending on what one it is doing, can signal certain problems and help to determine the solution.
Winter- harsh winter winds and sunscald can have negative effects for the top of your pine tree. To help protect it, you can apply anti-desiccant in the fall. Another way you can help your tree is by providing it with adequate amounts of water in the fall to help it prepare for the long winter months.
Diseases- If your tree has pine wilt, this will usually attack your tree from the top down. If you see this, you should get a certified professional arborist to come and inspect your tree and treat it accordingly.
Bark Beetles- some signs you have bark beetles is the trunk or branches will have small holes in them. You might also see some sawdust around your tree, which would indicate an insect infestation. Another symptom is that your tree will have brown or red needles on the top but green ones at the bottom. Contact an arborist to come and confirm if you do have an insect infestation and apply proper treatments or have the tree removed.
Bottom Up Dying
Water- when you see your pine tree browning from the bottom up, this can indicate it is not getting enough water. Your tree is in survival mode and will let the bottom needles die in order to try and keep water to the upper half of the tree. If the summer is particularly dry, give your tree some extra water.
How Five Star Tree Services Can Help
If you see your pine tree shedding needles in the late summer or early fall, this is not usually cause for concern. This is them getting rid of old needles in preparation for growing new ones in the spring. But if you do notice other concerns, our arborists at Five Star Tree Services can come and assess the situation and make recommendations on next steps. If you want to use our tree care services in Richmond Hill, contact us today at (416) 990-3355!