Browning of Needles on Evergreens

Each year in September and October, we get quite a few calls from people who have concerns about an evergreen tree beginning to turn brown or yellow.  Nobody wants to lose an established spruce/pine or arbrovitae that has been a cherished part of their landscape.

The good news is that most of the time when I go out to look at these trees in the fall, they are going through a normal and natural process of shedding some of their older needles/foliage.  While this year’s new growth remains healthy looking, older needles / foliage from previous years is shutting down, turning yellow or brown and beginining to fall to the ground.  It’s pretty much the same process that the leaves of maples, oak and other trees and leafy shrubs go through each fall, except that with spruce/pine and arbrovitae, at least one or more year class of needles remain on the tree as older year classes of needles shed.

It is this natural and normal needle shedding that creates the deep carpets of needles often admired in pine forests of North America.

It’s a sure sign that autumn has arrived and winter is not far behind.  I love the four seasons and the constant change that comes as one season unfolds after another.  It’s deeply reassuring that much of what is happening is as it should be, balanced as only Mother Nature knows how.  Celebrate with me the falling of the needles that signals the continued cycling of the four seasons.