Every year, as Fall weather arrives, we receive dozens of inquiries from clients concerned about their pines, spruces, or arborvitaes dropping many needles that have turned yellow or brown.

Evergreen needles have a finite “lifespan” and eventually turn brown and fall off as the needle dies. Generally speaking, the “lifespan” of an evergreen’s needles is approximately two years, and their lifecycle is completed in the Fall. The oldest interior needles closest to the trunk are cast-off, providing valuable natural mulch under the trees. Arborvitae needles will turn from green to tan or yellow and then brown before they fall. Don’t worry; your evergreen will put on a fresh new layer of needles in the Spring.

When to should you be concerned?

If needles are turning tan or brown and dropping from the ends of the branches, this could be a serious problem. Evergreens only produce new needles at the ends of the branches. New needles do not form on the interior of the tree.

If single branches, sections, or tips are turning colors other than green you may have one of the following issues:

  • Bagworms
  • Fungal Cankers
  • Mites
  • Needle Blight
  • Drougth Stress
  • Root Rot
  • Winter Damage
  • Transplant Shock
  • or Physical Damage