Holly tree losing leaves

Hi all

Could do with some advice please. We bought two holly trees a few months back. One of them has started to lose a lot of its leaves - at least 2 thirds I would say.
The tree is about 20 foot high. 

I'm thinking that perhaps the drainage isn't good enough and the tree has been suffocating. Despite all the hot weather, the soil under the mulch going down is still quite damp.

I've bought some compost so that I can mix in more and provide some better drainage.

There are new leaves coming out at the end of the branches albeit slowly. 

The other tree is doing okay at the moment.

Just wondered if anyone has encountered similar and I missing something else? 
I do plan on checking the PH level as well as I know Holly's aren't too keen on alkaline soil and we do have quite a bit of  limestone in our county.

Added some photos as well if that helps 



  • twopointfour1980
    twopointfour1980 Forumite Posts: 59
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    Sorry, can't seem to add photos on mobile. Will add when back home
  • Crag30
    Crag30 Forumite Posts: 250
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    I'm having a similar problem with 2 climbing roses. One has gone mad with flower but lost all it's leaves, the other is fine, yet they are less than a metre apart
  • Katiehound
    Katiehound Forumite Posts: 7,186
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    Where I walk there are quite an amount of dead holly leaves- the tree is very well established. I know evergreen trees do shed leaves so I would expect some to be dropping now. (Lots of dead leaves dropping from my Griselina)

    Could be that the tree is in shock especially with the dry weather. You need some expert advice- that's not me!
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  • Farway
    Farway Forumite Posts: 12,522
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    20 foot high is a very large mature tree to move in high summer.
    The evaporation must be huge, combined with root damage from lifting & moving I assume it is drying out and shedding leaves to survive, despite damp soil the root damage will take a while to grow fresh roots

    You mention drainage, is it a wet area?

    Given the height of the tree presumably this was not a DIY job, what does your contractor say about it?
  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Forumite Posts: 884
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    If you only bought them a few months ago, I'd be reluctant to suggest digging around the roots and disturbing/damaging them again until you have a better idea of the problem - you don't want to be adding compost now then digging again to balance the soil once you've tested it.

    You say new growth is coming in, so that's a positive. Do the remaining leaves look okay (are they the same colour as the leaves on the other tree?) 

    Some pictures would be helpful. 
  • sheramber
    sheramber Forumite Posts: 17,512
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    While the surface soil may be  damp is water getting right down to the roots?
  • twopenny
    twopenny Forumite Posts: 4,581
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    I got lost at planting a 20ft tree in spring  :/
    Were they rootballed? 
    A good nursery would plant that size in autumn.

    It's possibily that with the roots not established it can't cope with the heat on the leaves. But their tough so it should shoot from the trunk or branches later. Not the same shape for some time.

    I noticed this morning that my well rooted bay was shedding.

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  • Dustyevsky
    Dustyevsky Forumite Posts: 701
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    edited 18 June at 11:19AM
    A root balled, 20' tree planted in March or April will be fine until stressed by the sort of summer we've had so far. Most evergreen trees change leaves in late spring/early summer, but it's not possible to judge an outcome here.
    Personally, I plant small and wait. Not only is it more MSE, but it's a more forgiving process. Plants of larger size, stressed out, yet surviving, may well recover, but it could take years before the damage becomes unnoticeable.
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  • theoretica
    theoretica Forumite Posts: 12,066
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    I would call the nursery you bought them from for advice - for 20 foot trees you must have paid a pretty sum, and they will hopefully have good advice to throw in.
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