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Dwarf Alberta Spruce
Brown at Top

Q: We have 3 dwarf Alberta spruces about ten years old planted in front of our house. 2 are in perfect condition one has started to turn brown starting at the top and down the right side. No sign of bugs. What can I do to correct the problem?

A: I would check the trunk from top to bottom. It sounds like something is affecting just that side of the tree.

It may have developed a girdling root around the trunk at or below ground level, so this is the first thing I'd look for. Also inspect the trunk for injuries. Sometimes critters like to chew on bark, and someone may have gnawed on the tree.

If you find chew marks, enclose the trunk with a plastic barrier available at garden centers and nurseries. This may help prevent further injury.

As to recovery, it'll have to be up to the plant to cooperate with your efforts.

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Tom Mugridge

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