Leyland Cypress Trees Dying – Are They Just Too Old?

Q: Thirty years ago I planted fifty Leyland cypress trees as a privacy screen. They are now forty feet high, but some of them appear to be dying from the bottom up. A friend told me that they have had their useful life and there is nothing that I can do.

A: I could agree with your friend…but then I’d have to explain how that long line of huge Leyland cypress, growing a couple of miles south of Jonesboro on Highway 54, has survived just fine for so many years. My bet is that the planting there was done on what was once agricultural land. The tree roots have been able to spread easily into the soft soil nearby. This gave them the ability to survive last year’s drought and other stresses. Mature Leyland cypresses that were planted poorly suffer greatly in a drought. Their thin bark splits and admits canker fungi, which eventually cause their death. The best you can do with your plants is prune out dead branches and water in times of summer drought.

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