Why Leaves Change Colour When They Shouldn’t (and How to Stop Them)

Orange leaves on a branch

If the leaves on your trees and shrubs are changing unseasonably early, it could be a sign something’s wrong. Here are a few common reasons why leaves change colour early and how to fix them.

Not enough water

Newly planted trees need to be watered for about three years until they’re fully established. Even mature trees benefit from occasional deep watering during drought conditions. Watering in the morning or evening can keep soil cool and reduce water evaporation.

Too much water

Overwatering can deplete the soil of nutrients plants need to stay healthy. Check the soil at the base of the tree: if it’s wet, let the soil dry before watering. If you’re planting in a low-lying area where soil is often wet, choose native species that are adapted to wet conditions, like silver maple or white meadowsweet.

Trunk damage

Damage to the trunk of your tree or shrub can reduce the flow of water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. Protect your trees from lawn mowers and weed trimmers by adding a 6-8 centimetre layer of mulch over the roots to prevent grass and weeds from growing close to the trunk. During the winter, install tree guards to keep hungry rabbits away.

Nutrient deficiency

Some trees and shrubs don’t get the nutrients they need from the soil. Add a thin layer of compost (3-5 centimetres deep) to the mulched area over the roots to provide a steady supply of nutrients and improve soil health.

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