Revive Your Arborvitae: Avoid Overwatering and Restore Health with Proper Techniques

October 1, 2022 in environment, green living

Article summary and Key takeaways: Arborvitae, also known as the “tree of life,” is a popular choice for landscaping due to its attractive foliage and privacy-providing abilities. However, overwatering can be a common issue that negatively affects the health and appearance of arborvitae. Understanding the water requirements of arborvitae and recognizing the signs of overwatering are crucial for maintaining its health. Symptoms of overwatering include yellowing or browning foliage, wilting, stunted growth, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases. Proper watering techniques, such as deep watering and allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, can prevent overwatering. If overwatering has already occurred, steps can be taken to revive the tree, including improving drainage, pruning damaged branches, and adjusting the watering schedule. Root rot is a common issue associated with overwatering and can be identified by yellowing foliage, stunted growth, and a foul odor. To address root rot, improving drainage, pruning affected roots, and applying fungicide may be necessary. Underwatering can also harm arborvitae, causing brown and crispy foliage and wilting. Thorough watering, mulching, and monitoring soil moisture levels can help restore underwatered arborvitae. Seeking professional help from an arborist or landscaping expert is recommended for diagnosing and treating overwatering issues.


Arborvitae, also known as the “tree of life”, is a popular choice for landscaping due to its attractive foliage and ability to provide privacy. This evergreen tree is native to North America and is commonly used as a hedge or ornamental tree. However, many homeowners face the common issue of overwatering their arborvitae, which can lead to detrimental effects on the tree’s health and overall appearance.

Understanding arborvitae and its water requirements

Arborvitae naturally thrives in moist soil conditions, but it is important to understand its water requirements to avoid overwatering. In its natural habitat, arborvitae grows in areas with well-draining soil and receives moderate rainfall. This indicates that arborvitae prefers moist soil, but not overly saturated conditions.

Proper watering techniques are crucial for maintaining the health of arborvitae. Watering too frequently or providing excessive amounts of water can lead to overwatering, which can have detrimental effects on the tree’s root system and overall health.

Signs and symptoms of overwatered arborvitae

Overwatering can manifest in various signs and symptoms, indicating that the arborvitae is receiving more water than it can handle. One common visual cue is yellowing or browning of the foliage. The leaves may appear wilted and droopy, and the overall vigor of the tree may diminish. Additionally, overwatering can lead to root rot, which further exacerbates the issue.

Other problems associated with overwatering include stunted growth, fungal diseases, and an increased susceptibility to pests. It is important to address these symptoms promptly to prevent further damage to the arborvitae.

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How to prevent and treat overwatered arborvitae

Prevention is key when it comes to overwatered arborvitae. By following proper watering techniques, homeowners can avoid the detrimental effects of overwatering. It is important to water arborvitae deeply, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. This encourages the development of deep roots and prevents shallow root systems.

If arborvitae has already been overwatered, there are steps that can be taken to revive the tree. First, it is important to improve the drainage around the tree by ensuring the soil is well-draining and not retaining excessive moisture. Pruning any damaged or diseased branches can also help promote new growth. Additionally, reducing the frequency of watering and adjusting the amount of water provided can help restore the health of the arborvitae.

To prevent overwatering in the future, homeowners should be mindful of the weather conditions and adjust their watering schedule accordingly. Regularly monitoring the moisture levels in the soil and only watering when necessary can help maintain the health of arborvitae.

Identifying root rot in arborvitae

Root rot is a common issue associated with overwatering and can have severe consequences for arborvitae. It is caused by fungal pathogens that thrive in overly saturated soil. The excess water prevents the roots from receiving adequate oxygen, leading to root decay.

Signs of root rot in arborvitae include yellowing or browning of the foliage, stunted growth, and a foul odor coming from the soil. The roots may appear mushy and discolored. If left untreated, root rot can eventually lead to the death of the arborvitae.

To address root rot, it is important to first improve the drainage around the tree by ensuring the soil is well-draining. Pruning any affected roots and applying a fungicide can help combat the fungal infection. However, severe cases of root rot may require the removal of the affected arborvitae to prevent the spread of the disease to other plants.

Restoring underwatered arborvitae

Underwatering can also have detrimental effects on arborvitae, although the symptoms may differ from those of overwatering. Underwatered arborvitae may exhibit brown and crispy foliage, wilting, and a general lack of vigor. The soil around the tree may appear dry and compacted.

To restore underwatered arborvitae, it is important to thoroughly water the tree, ensuring that the water reaches the deeper roots. Mulching around the tree can help retain moisture and improve water retention. Regular monitoring of the soil moisture levels and adjusting the watering schedule accordingly can prevent future underwatering.


Proper watering practices are essential for maintaining the health and vitality of arborvitae. Overwatering can have detrimental effects on the tree’s root system and overall appearance. By understanding the water requirements of arborvitae and following proper watering techniques, homeowners can ensure the longevity and beauty of their arborvitae trees.

If homeowners are unsure about the health of their arborvitae or need assistance in diagnosing and treating overwatering issues, it is recommended to seek professional help from a local arborist or landscaping expert. They can provide expert guidance and ensure the best care for arborvitae trees.

Question 1: How do I know if my arborvitae is getting too much water?
Answer: If the arborvitae has yellow or wilted leaves, and the soil is constantly wet, it may be getting too much water.

Question 2: How do I know if my arborvitae has root rot?
Answer: Signs of root rot in arborvitae include yellowing or browning of the foliage, stunted growth, and a foul odor coming from the roots.

Question 3: How do I bring my arborvitae back to life?
Answer: To revive an arborvitae, ensure it is receiving proper watering, prune any dead or diseased branches, and provide appropriate fertilization and care.

Question 4: What does underwatered arborvitae look like?
Answer: An underwatered arborvitae may have dry, brown or yellow leaves, and the foliage may appear wilted or crispy.


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About the author 

Jason Farland