In addition to soil and water tests, the last two weeks have been busy with researching samples brought into our office. Please find below a sampling of what we have identified in our office lately.

Watermeal is a tiny plant that floats on water and is usually associated with stagnant pond water with high nutrient levels, possibly from fertilizer or animal waste runoff.   If you see pond weeds, please bring in a sample so we can help with identification as management strategies vary.

Arborvitae vs Leyland:

When we think of evergreens, we don’t expect them to drop their foliage, but they do. What we saw from samples brought in our office was normal needle drop on both Leyland and arborvitae. Some years needle drop might be more extensive due to wet or dry weather conditions within that year, and we have seen both extremes this year. Interior needles on the trees will typically be shed, however if you notice brown needles on the outer tips of the branches, that could be another concern.  Determining the difference between Leylands and Thujas can be confusing, so below are a few differences to help you.


Leylands:  Leylands typically have foliage with a darker shade of green and can even appear to be blue. They have flat needles that lay in multiple directions on the branches.

Thujas: The ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae is the most common cultivar planted in landscapes (Thuja plicata). The foliage tends to be a lighter green color with flat needles that lay in one direction.


Both leylands and thujas have thick dense foliage that has been used for privacy screens in the landscape. They both have scaly foliage and conical shaped growth.

For more information, check out some resources below.

Evergreens Shed Too

Conifer Society

Be sure to check out the plant of the week on our Facebook Page!

Kim Toal, is the Fayette County Extension Coordinator and Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more information on gardening in Fayette County, contact Fayette County Extension at 770-305-5412 or online at