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We have lived in East Lyme for 26 years.Since the house was built, it was always surrounded by beautiful Mountain Laurel. That was, until the last five or six years, when the Mountain Laurel started dying off. Now there are very few left. Some were almost two inches thick at the base and most are about twelve feet tall. Why are the Mountain Laurels dying? Vinnie


Assuming that there is no apparent disease present, here are a few thoughts about what might be happening:

1.) Existing Tree Canopy Too Thick
The existing tree canopy above the Mountain Laurel may be too thick and not allowing enough sunlight. If this is the case, Sprigs & Twigs can remove or thin some of the tree limbs. When major storms knock down trees in the forest, creating openings for sunlight, Mountain Laurels respond very favorably by growing more vigorously

2. Competition From Other Trees
The surrounding tree roots may be competing for soil moisture. Mountain Laurels have shallow root systems so they easily dry out if surrounded by large trees or during a drought. Sprigs & Twigs can remove any larger trees directly around the Mountain Laurel. Also, make sure the fallen leaves remain on the ground under the laurels each year. The leaves provide a protective barrier to keep the roots cool and moist, and they also decompose to provide nourishment and organic matter for the shrubs.

3. Mountain Laurel Too Thick
The stand of Mountain Laurel may be too thick and inhibiting proper air circulation through the shrub's branches. When a shrub's overall branch structure is thick and heavy, a perfect moist, dark environment is created for diseases like Leaf Spot to get established and insects like Lace Bug and Borers to take up residence. If this is the case, Sprigs & Twigs can thin the Mountain Laurel to open up the branch structure.

4. Deer
Deer may be browsing on the lower limbs and removing the leaves which are important in collecting sunlight and providing the nutrients for the shrub to grow. A fence of fishing line could be erected around the laurels to deter the deer.

5. Soil
The soil may not be acidic enough. Sprigs & Twigs can test the soil and advise you how to correct it.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.


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