I have two 20-year-old pine trees whose needles are turning brown on the west side of the plants. On the east side I have a compost pile.
I live in the St. Charles region and my soil is mostly clay. What is causing the browning? Should I get rid of the compost? How do I correct the damage?
Climate conditions could be the cause of the brown needles. There was strong west wind this past winter season, which caused winter burn. With last fall’s rain and winter snow cover, the soil never dried out. According to Todd Mohr, sales associate, Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Woodstock, pines normally begin
to go dormant in late August. “We had a lot of burn on our evergreens which showed up over summer,” says Mohr.
Cut a sample of the branch and make sure the plant is alive. You can photograph your tree or take the sample to an arboretum or garden center for evaluation. The compost should not affect the trees unless you have a large pile that is prohibiting air circulation. Spread the compost loosely over the area.
White pine is a native Illinois tree. It may come back on its own. If not, have a tree professional diagnose it.
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