I had a landscaper plant 14 balled & burlapped Emerald Green Arbor Vitaes about 6-7 weeks ago. Now, half seem dead (needles brown, falling off, no green under bark when scraped). I was told to water once a week, which I did until I noticed them starting to turn brown, at which time I watered about twice a week with a soaker hose. Now, I am inspecting them and am wondering if they were planted correctly. The burlap surrounding the rootballs was never pulled away from the trunk, nor was it pulled down/slit to expose the roots at all. Could this have contributed to their early demise? Thanks for any info you might have.

For an arborvitae to go from green to brown in 6-7 weeks it would take more than just the burlap and twine not being undone. Unless the twine and burlap is made of plastic then, over the course of a few years, the arb might grow and get strangled by the plastic twine. If the twine is jute (like baling twine) then it will disintigrate long before it could become a problem. Often, it isbest to just leave jute burlap and twine in place when planting. Trying to unbundle the root ball might cause the root ballto fall apart. This breaks off all the tiny root hairs that absorb moisture from the soil. . . . It sounds as though you’ve been watering them enough so I think there are three possible reason why some of your arbs failed. . . . First, make sure that they have not been planted too deep. The original soil lineon the trunk where the bark meets the root bark should be at soil level, not below. If they are planted too deep with the bark buried, the flow of moisture up the trunk is greatly impaired. . . Second, make sure that mulch hasn’t been piled up against the trunk. Mulch as heavily as you want away from the trunk butnever pilemulch against the exposed bark of the tree. It has the same effect as burying the truk too deep in the soil. . . . If you check and they seem to have been planted and mulched properly then the only conclusion is that they experienced a period of severe dryness at some point in spring before they arrived at your home. In that case I hope for your sake that they have some sort of guarantee and will be replaced.

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