What's wrong with our Manzanita 'Dr. Hurd'?
We have 2 Arctostaphylos 'Dr. Hurd' (Manzanita), each planted on either side of the front yard when it was re-landscaped in early 2010. We plan to train them into small trees.
We noticed yellowing of the lower leaves, so yesterday I pulled away the mulch and landscape fabric surrounding one of them and found BONE DRY cracked soil with a couple of roots on the very surface. We had a lot of good rain in winter and a cool, damp spring so we haven't been running the sprinklers in spite of a few hot days. The one I checked yesterday is planted on a slope. I've read they are tolerant of poor conditions, but they are not yet established and the yellow leaves with brown spots suggest they may be in trouble.
Believing it is under-watered, I gave it a good soaking yesterday.
Today, we will remove as much of the landscape fabric as possible. The fabric is literally stuck to the soil which is parched dry on the surface; I couldn't check below the surface because I could barely get a trowel into it. :( (Does it sound like I'm building a case against using landscape fabric around plants??? I am!)
After removing the fabric and soaking the surrounding soil, we'll apply a thick layer of bark mulch and give it a deep monthly watering with the hose. Are our Dr. Hurd trees in trouble, and is there anything else we need to do?
Here are two pictures showing the yellow leaves.