Why is my newly planted tree declining or dying?


Unfortunately, there is not one standard answer to this question!  When trying to determine the primary cause of the problem, several factors need to be given consideration. Remember that dieback does not always occur in the first year. Some factors contribute to poor vigour over a period of years or cause tree death two to five years (sometimes longer) after planting.

Some of the most common factors that can lead to problems with young trees include:

  • Improper watering
  • Improper planting depth
  • Poorly prepared planting hole
  • Poor quality of nursery stock
  • Weather extremes
  • Insect or disease issue
  • Girdling wires from tree supports
  • Mulch volcanoes
  • Poor soil pH
  • Improper species selection
  • Injury from improperly applied pesticides
  • Mechanical damage from animals or equipment

In many cases, several factors may be contributing to tree mortality.  Pinpointing the primary factors will be helpful in taking corrective measures in future plantings.

Written by Aaron Steil, Horticulture and Home Pest News, Iowa State University

Featured image: Vitor Monthay via Unsplash