Why Is The Top Of My Spruce Tree Dying?

A brown tree is never a good thing. So when you gaze up at your majestic blue spruce and realize its top towering branches are a crispy brown, you’re right to be concerned.

Why is the top of your spruce tree dying? Let’s take a look.

And we’ll talk about how to stop evergreens from turning brown in the first place.

That Frigid Winter Wind Damages Tops of Trees

Winter can be hard on all of us — including trees.

The tops of tall pine and spruce trees are especially vulnerable, way up high where the wind is even stronger and colder.

pine tree needles with ice

Evergreens like spruce lose precious moisture through their needles. Damaged needles turn brown and the tree starts to die at the top.

A Tip to Protect Your Evergreen Tree From Winter Damage

You can help prevent winter damage by keeping your trees well watered throughout the year — not just in summer’s heat.

We tend to focus all our watering efforts on flowers and shrubs, but trees need good hydration, too. Without it, they’re less able to withstand damage.

During long stretches of dry weather, really soak your spruce trees, not just at the base, but the area around it. Tree roots can stretch quite a ways away from the actual tree.

Mulch helps, too, by retaining valuable moisture. Cover the roots, but keep mulch a few inches away from the trunk.

Pesky Pests May be Killing the Top of Your Tree

White Pine Weevils can cause the tops of spruce to turn brown.

They lay their eggs in the branches in the spring and the hatched beetles start feeding on them, cutting off water flow.

If you see sawdust or remnants of insects, pests are likely why the top of your evergreen tree is turning brown, and its time to call in the professionals.

Cutting off the dead top and pruning back to undamaged wood typically removes the insects feeding inside and allows the tree to sprout new growth.

Your tree will look odd at first, without its top, but a new leader branch will likely sprout next season, and your tree will soon look like its old self again.

Your Tree May Have a Disease

Pine wilt disease is another reason the top of a pine or spruce tree turns brown. Pine wilt attacks from the top down, caused by small worms called nematodes that invade trees and cause severe damage.

pine wilt tree disease

In many cases, using an insecticide and pruning away infected branches will get your tree back in shape.

Keep Your Trees Healthy With Outback Landscape

Here at Outback Landscape, we love trees, and we have the skills and knowledge to help keep your property’s trees happy and healthy all year long.

We have licensed pesticide applicators on staff trained in treating tree problems.

Healthy trees and shrubs

And we know how to stop evergreens from turning brown in the first place, with preventive measures to keep your trees healthy.

Located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, we serve residential and commercial properties in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello, Idaho, as well as Bonneville, Madison and Bannock counties.

Contact Outback Landscape at 208-656-3220, or fill out the contact form to schedule an onsite consultation.

We’d love to hear from you.

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Image sources: pine wilt, pine tree needles with ice