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Yard caretaker
Shrub leaves turning brown and dropping

I moved into a new home 4 months ago and have a good front yard. A couple of shrubs are now almost shorn of green leaves. Most leaves have turned brown and started dropping off. I am in Houston where it is not quite Fall as yet. Can't post picture here since file size is large.

Any similar experience out there will be helpful. Thanks.

Re: Shrub leaves turning brown and dropping

We've had a drought this year, I'm sure you have heard. New plantings need plenty of water the first year, and it needs to be frequent. But the problem might be deeper than just that or it might not be a problem at all.

Where the plants have dropped all their leaves, break a small branch and see if the layer immediately under the bark is green or brown. If it is green, the plant might be going dormant early as protection against the drought, or it might just be its time. If this layer is brown and the branch is very brittle, the plant is dead or dying.

If a small branch is brown and brittle, sc**** a little bark on the trunk and see if there is any green under it. If not, the plant is dead. If there is green, then you need to decide just how much do you love the plant. If you want to save it, keep it watered well for the next 6 weeks or so, then dig it up.

When you dig it up, you then need to check the roots to see if they are still in a tight ball, if so, go around the ball and either cut the roots or pull them out of the ball. Then replant at the correct height. Too often contractor plantings are planted too deep. The plant should be planted higher than it was when in its container. This keeps the crown dry so that it doesn't get root crown rot. Then trim off the dead branches. The plant might recover and grow nicely.

If you don't love the plant, then this would be a good time to get something that you do like. If you are not that particular about plants, then find a nursery that can provide you with native plants that would be appropriate. They need less care.

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