Can You Save Browning Arborvitae? Preventive Action Plan

How to save brown arborvitae trees in summer

What are Arborvitae trees, how to care for them, and how to save brown arborvitae trees in summer? Are you intrigued by these questions? Well, let’s find out more about them!


Arborvitae trees are the right fit if you are looking for decorative trees for fencing purposes or hedges. Arborvitaes adorn the landscapes and also enhance security.


Plant several in a row, and the thick, dense foliage would grow in to become a comfortable living fence in only a year or two. But don’t forget the numerous additional ways arborvitaes may be used in both formal and casual garden designs.


In This Article:



Why Is My Arborvitae Turning Brown in Summer?

Why Is My Arborvitae Turning Brown in Summer

There are more than one reasons for thuja trees turning brown. Listed below are the most common ones:

  •  Could be seasonal needle drop: Browning is not a thing of concern when it occurs because of seasonal change. Seasonal change results in a change of the color of the needles, which ultimately leads to seasonal needle drop.
  • Excess-watering: Over-watering arborvitae leads to brown coloration and other concerning issues. The next question that pops in mind is how to assess that they are overwatered? The indicators of over-watering your arborvitae might be similar to those of under-watering.

    The shift to yellow or brown colors may be seen in the branches and needle drop. Root rot can also be caused by more moisture or inadequate drainage. In this state, your arborvitae is vulnerable to diseases or fungal infestations.


    When the soil surrounding your tree is congested, or your tree is placed in a low-lying position, the danger of over-watering from rain rises. In addition to discoloration and dieback, over-watered arborvitae may show damp and drooping leaves.

  • Weather conditions: Browning of arborvitae leaves can happen at any time of year. When it transpires in the summer, the hue shift might be due to drought. However, if your arborvitae shrub becomes brown in the winter or early spring, the most likely cause is winter burn. Wind, sun, cold temperatures, and a lack of adequate water in winter can cause arborvitae leaves to turn brown.
  • In summer, it happens mostly due to drought: The most curious question that pops into every mind is ??how to save brown arborvitae trees in summer? An arborvitae tree can die if left to dry out entirely for just one day, making it an unsuitable plant for drought-prone areas. As a result, ensure that yours receives at least 1 inch of water every week from rainfall or an irrigation system.
  • While moving them to a different location (Transplanting): If your freshly planted arborvitae trees are yellowing, browning, or fading at the tips, the most likely reason is transplant shock. This happens because these trees frequently lose a large portion of their roots when dug up at the nursery, and it takes time for the roots to set up again in the new location.
  • Injured roots: Roots of the trees absorb and transmit water and nutrients from the soil to the rest of the parts of the tree. If the roots of your arborvitae are injured for any cause, be it digging, roto-tilling, or harm caused by animals, then the quantity of water the roots can carry to the rest of the plant will be affected.
  • Fungal Disease and pests: While arborvitaes are well-known and loved for being low-maintenance, they are prone to many fungal issues that can cause your arborvitae to turn brown.


How To Save Brown Arborvitae Trees in Summer?

How To Save Brown Arborvitae Trees in Summer
Now that you have an answer to “why is my arborvitae turning brown in summer,” let us move to the next big question, “how do I make my arborvitae green again?”


These preventive measures will help you keep your plant green and healthy.

  • Water properly: Most established plants require around one inch of water each week, and freshly planted trees require more to prevent transplant shock and develop their root systems. This one inch of water might come from rainfall or supplementary irrigation.

    Installing a rain gauge in your garden is the easiest method to keep track of how much water your land receives. This will give you a better idea each week of whether the rainfall you got was appropriate or whether you need to bring out the hose and give your plants some more water.


    Water consistency will aid in preventing the thuja trees turning brown. If you are wondering ‘Why my arborvitae is turning brown in summer,’ checking the water level is the first thing you should do.

  • Plant in spring at a well-protected location: Planting arborvitae in the early spring will give them more than enough time to create a strong root system throughout the season, allowing them to transport much-needed water to leaves and avoid browning. So, spring is considered the best season to bring up the arborvitae trees.

    Another point which should be borne in mind if you need a proper answer to ‘can you save browning arborvitae’ is the location. Proper irrigation facilities should be accessible for proper growth.


    If you want to plant arborvitae later in the season, wait until the summer heat has passed before planting, but don’t wait until immediately before winter since the roots won’t have time to develop.

  • Mulch: Mulching is undoubtedly the finest strategy for keeping newly established or even older, established bushes and trees healthy over time. Mulching at the foot of the arborvitae will help preserve soil moisture, enhance soil structure, and reduce lawnmower damage.
  • Plant the Correct Root Length: Make sure that the same length of roots is planted below the ground level if you transport the plant.
  • Use fungicide: Apart from using pesticides, pruning and removing affected branches and twigs is the treatment for arborvitae fungal infections. Sprinkle the plant with a copper pesticide in springtime and again in the early fall as a preventive step.
  • Use burlap to cover your tree: Use burlap to shield your arborvitae from the intense winter sun and winds, which can cause browning. They will redirect the wind and shield the plants from direct sunlight exposure. Make careful to remove the stuff in the early spring.


How Can You Save Browning Arborvitae That’s Affected Badly?

How Can You Save Browning Arborvitae That’s Affected Badly

There could be two scenarios why you are here reading this article.


Firstly, you might be asking yourself why is my arborvitae turning brown in summer? Secondly, you could be wondering how to make it green if it has already gone almost brown.


  • If latter is your reason, you might notice brown needles on the arborvitae trees, consider it a normal occurrence if they appear after a cold, dry winter preceded by a dry summer. Dry summer might be the cause of trees turning brown. Being a natural process, we cannot do much about this. Just wait for the next season for some new green foliage.
  • Green needles may come on top of brown ones if your plant is alive and healthy from the inside. So, do not prune or cut the branches until a professional advisor asks you to do so.
  • Once the season changes and you see a few green needles, then you may start thinning out the brown ones.


So, the answer to the question ‘can you save browning arborvitae’ is yes! By taking all the preventive actions mentioned above and being proactive in removing brown dead needles, you can save your tree.


Care Tips for Thuja Trees Turning Brown (Arborvitae)

Care Tips for Thuja Trees Turning Brown

  • To plant thuja trees, dig in a hole in the ground twice as the size of the existing roots. It will provide ample space to the roots to flourish further.
  • Plant arborvitae trees on the northeast or east side of your estate to protect them from the chilly breeze.
  • It grows best in well drained fertile soil that retains moisture.
  • For mature trees, 10 gallons (37.85 litres) of water per inch of tree diameter is suggested.
  • Grow arborvitae trees in the spring or late summer to allow the roots to grow before the plant goes inactive for the winter and the ground freezes.
  • Avoid fertilizing plants in the later summertime. Late fertilization stimulates the development of fresh leaves, potentially delaying the beginning of dormancy.


You might also like to read Majesty Palm and Frosty Fern care guide.


Q. How do I know if my arborvitae is dying?

Ans. As the tree deteriorates, the bark becomes loose and begins to fall off. Vertical fissures will emerge on the bark, and some areas may be gone entirely. Other indications of arborvitae dying are foot damage and an excess amount of deadwood.


Q. Should I cut the brown off my arborvitae?

Ans.You need to cut the brown needles of the arborvitae trees because they do not develop fresh growth on older bare stems. To ensure plant health, don’t remove more than one-third of the live leaf area every growing season.


Q. How tall do arborvitae grow?

Ans. These trees grow up to 10-15 feet in height in their entire lifespan of 50-100 years. Each year they have the capacity to grow by 1-3 feet depending on the favorable conditions they receive.


Related: Indoor Pine Trees Turning Brown |Growing Indoor Water Plants|Western Arborvitae Varieties

Final Word

We know that a lot of you will be disappointed to hear that if the plant hasn’t recovered after one season of browning even after taking all the preventive & remedial actions, there’s nothing more you could do.
This means major part of its root system and the overall plant has gone bad and you might want to consult a professional for further taking care of your thuja trees turning brown.


We hope that our article helped you find your answer to ‘how do I make my arborvitae green again.’