En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 12, 2009

From: Hillsboro, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Brown dead spots on arborvitae in Hillsboro OR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello. I live in Hillsboro, OR and have several mature arborvitae as a privacy screen in my backyard. They are on our side of a black chainlink fence separating our yard from a drainage area maintained by the city. Early last week we noticed that there were dead patches on all of the trees in our surrounding area. They are dead patches and not "dying". Apart from these dead patches, the trees seem healthy. This is inter-species as it seems to have affected pines, deciduous, broadleaves, etc. At first we thought it was just an irresponsible pesticide/herbicide job, but the dead patches are becoming worse and more noticeable and cover quite a large area. It has affected the trees in our small backyard, all of the trees in the drainage area, and across the street from that. Is there anything you know of that could possibly cause this?

ANSWER:

Sadly, you may be right about herbicide damage. Land maintained by a public entity, such as a city or county, may be sprayed for weeds, often by sub-contractors. If this is done carelessly or by untrained operators, the slightest puff of wind or bad aim can damage or kill other plants around it. The first step you should take is to call the city office responsible for maintaining that drainage area, and inquire about what has been done there recently. Certainly, you want to go to the drainage area and see if damage appears in the grasses or weeds in that area. Another thing to think about when you contact the city is that indiscriminate spraying of herbicide or pesticide, especially in a drainage area, can result in those poisons entering lakes in the area and, eventually, your glass of water.

Since this appears to be affecting more than one species of plant, if you eliminate the possibility of herbicide, we would recommend you contact the Oregon State University Extension Office for Washington County.  If this is happening in your neighborhood, it is happening in others and the Extension people are closer to the problem, and may be able to help you find a solution. 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Why isn't my recently planted Mexican Redbud growing in Georgetown, TX?
April 11, 2010 - I planted a container-grown Mexican Redbud in early March. As of April 5th, it is showing no signs of buds or leaves. Other redbuds in the area (possibly Texas redbuds) have been blooming for severa...
view the full question and answer

Tilling for grass under old live oak in San Antonio
April 15, 2012 - Hi, I have a 250+ year old Texas Live Oak. As usual, the lawn under the tree, after 18 years needs to be redone. MY QUESTION: to put down new sod the lawn company needs to till the soil about 4 t...
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
view the full question and answer

Cedar elm with brown leaves
August 12, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We feel we may have limited time to save our beautiful Ceder Elm. We have many trees in our yard (Post Oaks and Cedar Elms) and have been told they are all between 50 - 75 year...
view the full question and answer

How do you stop the bark from peeling off the tree in Amarillo?
May 07, 2012 - How do you stop the bark from peeling off the tree? I live in Amarillo, TX. If you can't stop the progression, how do you keep the tree alive?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center