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Is my tree dead?
August 7, 2014 2:29 PM   Subscribe

We have a tree in our parking strip that didn't bloom this year. I think I know why, but am I right, and is the damage repairable?

About three years ago, we planted two young trees in our parking strip. Last fall, probably around November, the city had to do some sewer repairs to our neighbor's house, so they backhoed out a big chunk of our parking strip, including one part of the tree well we'd planted the tree in. To answer your inevitable question, I have no idea what kind of tree - "not fruit" and "not evergreen" is about as close as I can get.

As this spring started, we knew we'd lose some tulips we'd planted around the well of the tree and sure enough we did, but what we weren't expecting was that the tree started growing leaves, then about a week or two later all those leaves turned brown and died, and the tree hasn't produced anything else since. It looks perfectly healthy otherwise, though, and the other tree (same type) we planted 20 feet away is doing just fine.

It would appear that maybe the backhoe took out some of the tree roots, maybe? Would that be enough to cause the tree to not bloom this year? And if that is the case, will time and further root growth solve the problem in coming years?
posted by pdb to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
 
Just to clarify, you're using the word "bloom" to describe the leaves coming out, not production of flowers, correct?

If that's the case and the tree has no green leaves on it now (assuming northern hemisphere), it's dead. I would inform the city and request that they replace the tree.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:44 PM on August 7


Yep, I was using "bloom" to describe leaves coming out, and yep, northern hemisphere. Thanks for the info, I was afraid that might be the case.
posted by pdb at 2:48 PM on August 7


Yes...if your tree has had no leaves all spring/summer, except for that first burst of leaves which all dropped off, it is dead.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:09 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


the tree started growing leaves, then about a week or two later all those leaves turned brown and died, and the tree hasn't produced anything else since. It looks perfectly healthy otherwise, though

I am not sure how the tree can look "perfectly healthy otherwise" if all the leaves turned brown and died, and it didn't grow any new leaves. If the tree is as Seymour Zamboni describes (no leaves throughout this Spring/Summer) then I agree that it is dead.
posted by fancyoats at 3:29 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


It is not possible for a tree to be "perfectly healthy otherwise" if it has no leaves during the growing season. Like, if you somehow lost all the skin or something from your body, you couldn't be described as being otherwise fine.

I would guess that if the roots were severely damaged, the tree used up all the stored nutrients left to it during leaf-out and could not sustain growth. I think your tree is dead :(
posted by peachfuzz at 3:50 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Cut a very small branch and see if it is green beneath the bark. However, it sounds like it died.
posted by shoesietart at 4:45 PM on August 7


I was using "perfectly healthy otherwise" to denote that I didn't see any discolored/peeling bark or other visible signs of damage, plus I don't know a damn thing about trees! Thanks for the tips all, sounds like it's time to replace our poor dead tree.
posted by pdb at 8:00 PM on August 7


I agree it's dead, but. A few years back we planted a chinese dogwood in our yard. Mid-late summer, all the leaves turned brown and crunchy. I thought we'd lost it, but next spring– surprise! Except in mid summer, same thing happened again. Damn, we blew our second chance! Except next spring... you get the idea. It eventually stopped doing the leaf death thing, presumably because the roots grew deep enough to hit moisture.
posted by carterk at 9:21 PM on August 7


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