You notice your blue atlas cedar or other conifer has turned brown over the winter. Looks like it is dead or on its way out. Before you decide to cut it down, do a little detective work. Most likely the tree suffered winter damage, but will not die. Your blue atlas cedar will shed the brown needles and grow new ones in their place. Just give it some time.
If you are not sure it will come back, check to see if the tree is transporting water and nutrients under the surface of the bark. One way to check is to take your fingernail and scratch a very small section of the branch’s outer bark layer. This should expose the cambium layer of the tree (the layer that transports water and nutrients). If the branch is still viable, you should see a green-colored layer under the outer bark just before hitting the hardwood. If there is not a fleshy cambium layer and you scratch right into the hard wood, the branch is dead and should be cut off. If at all in question, leave the tree alone and wait to see what it does this year or give us a call if you would like us to check it for you.