Browning Evergreens? Causes and Solutions

Evergreen trees, such as pines and firs, make a wonderful addition to your garden, providing colour and interest all year round. Many species of small birds also make their home in the bushy shelter of evergreens, bringing your garden to life. 

However, if you notice brown, dead needles at the top of your evergreen trees, there could be a serious problem. So what causes browning of evergreens and what can be done to fix it?

Winter weather and freezing wind

Although pines and spruces are resistant to winter weather, particularly cold snaps and bitter winds can cause damage to the trees' crowns. Wind-scald causes the needles to turn purple or brown and is typically seen at the end of the winter months or during the early spring.

You can take steps to prevent this problem by keeping your evergreens well-hydrated during the summer. Trees that are dehydrated can easily become stressed, leaving them more susceptible to damage.

Another good way of doing preventative treatment for your evergreens before the winter weather sets in is to use an anti-desiccant spray, which is applied in the autumn. As this job involves working at heights, it's recommended that you ask your local tree services contractor to carry out the work for you.

Pests and disease

Evergreen browning can also be caused by attack from disease or pests.

Common pests that can cause this problem include white pine weevils that lay their eggs on the trees during the spring. In the autumn, the eggs hatch out and the beetle larvae begin to feed on the tree, obstructing the flow of water to the needles and causing them to die off.

Bark beetles tend to target older trees that are already weak. Attack by these pests leaves a brownish tint on the tree crowns, and you may also notice sawdust at the base of the trees.

Needle disease is comparatively rare, but trees can be affected by pine wilt disease that attacks the trees from the top down, killing off the needles and turning them brown.

It's advisable to call in your local tree services firm to tackle tree diseases or pest infestations. The trees will require extensive, appropriate pruning and treatment with a powerful insecticide.

In conclusion

If you notice that your evergreen trees are beginning to turn brown from the top down, ask your local tree services company to come and check them out for you. An annual maintenance visit is also important to highlight any potential problems, before your trees sustain damage.