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Do I Have Any Hope of Saving This Old Evergreen?

 
Mark Oreilley
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Location: Zone 6b
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Hi all,

I recently bought a house in a neighborhood with mature trees. Most of the trees on my lot are 50-70 years old. The previous owner, unfortunately, let vines strangle a few of these trees. Right after taking ownership, I cut the vines at their bases at an evergreen tree that was being strangled. Fast forward 4 months and the vines appear to be dying, but more and more branches are starting to die out. Here's a picture:



Is there any hope of saving this old tree? It's not the prettiest, as quite a few of its branches have died off over the years. Still, I hate to see such an old tree go the way of the dodo bird.

Thanks in advance.
 
James Smartt
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Location: Ford, WA
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That looks more like pine beetle damage, check for tell-tale signs of beetle damage, holes in the tree, very interested wood peckers, popcorn-shaped masses of resin, called "pitch tubes". If you find these your best bet is to remove the tree to slow the infestation.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I agree with James, that looks more like pine borer damage.

If the tree was going to show signs of strangle damage, all the branches would be dead.
(it take 6-8 moths before a pine tree will show that it is dead by the needles turning brown (think Christmas tree).
So in truth those branches that appear to be dying, are already dead and have been for quite a while.
Look all around the tree, from ground to the highest branch you can get to, if you see small holes in the bark, you have borers and there is, unfortunately, only one solution.
The pine borer comes from eggs laid by a moth, so thinking you can stop the spread, or prevent other nearby trees from being infested is pretty much futile thinking.
Usually the moths lay eggs on as many trees as they can land on.
If it is borers, wood peckers should be visiting and doing their grub hunting.
 
Mark Oreilley
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 6b
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Thanks for the tips. With all of the vines along the bark, I'll have to look closely and see if I can find signs of beetle infestation. The trees behind it are the neighbor's and show no signs of dying branches yet.

I know little of these types of infestations. Are pine trees the only ones susceptible to it, or should I worry about the other trees on my property (maple, cherry blossom, dogwood, and a few others I haven't identified).

Also, if this tree comes down I would love to replace it with another evergreen. Any suggestions on species?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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the pine borer does not care what variety of conifer it infests, I've seen them in all the pine species and they will even get into all the members of the juniper family.
The only conifer trees I have not found this pest in are the true redwoods like the giant redwood and sequoia.

I have cut down two sacred cedars on our land because of infestation. These are the aromatic cedars used for closet liner and cedar chest lining.

As far as replacing, Spruce, fir, pine, are all good trees. The only way to keep conifers from being infested is to find a way to stop the moths from laying eggs.
For that I like to use DE through a pump powder applicator (the old timey dusting pump) This tool lets you get the super fine, food grade DE into all the nooks and crannies found in conifer barks.

If you have the space, and the weather, you could get a ponderosa pine (huge cones with large nuts that are really tasty) or go huge tree like the sequoia or giant redwood.
The last two are pretty fast growers, I had a redwood that I planted as a one year old and once the roots were established (one year) it started growing six feet per year, I moved to Arkansas 4 years later and at that time it was 24 feet tall and one foot diameter.

 
Dale Hodgins
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Pine beetles only affect evergreens. If this is anywhere near your home, replace it with a hardwood. Evergreens are a serious fire hazard in many areas, and should not be planted near structures.

I have seen many people waste money trying to save a tree that is bound to die. Look at it as a resource, and plant a tree that is useful in some way. Until they are harvested for lumber, most evergreen trees are not particularity useful to us.
 
Glenn Herbert
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That looks like a nice straight white pine, you could get some good lumber from it. If you can take logs to a band saw mill, you can get some nice looking planks to build rustic furniture or cabinetry with, or good siding.
 
Todd Parr
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Dale Hodgins wrote:most evergreen trees are not particularity useful to us.


They are the best windbreak and privacy trees though. I have planted more than a hundred around the perimeter of my property, and hope to do a couple of hundred more.
 
Mark Oreilley
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Location: Zone 6b
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Thanks for all of the great information.  It turns out that it was dead, and my arborist is taking it down as we speak. 

I'll definitely be considering a replacement now.  Ponderosa pine sounds interesting, but perhaps would it look out of place in Eastern PA?  I remember seeing those everywhere when I lived out west. 

In the hardwood family, I'm also considering a Japanese Maple.  I had one at my old place and it was beautiful in the fall. 

Hmmm lots of options.
 
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