Every year about this time we start getting phone calls from people who are concerned about their pine trees losing needles. Pine trees are evergreens which means they do hold needles all year round but that does not mean they hold the same needles year after year.
Here is a picture of an Eastern White Pine with classic fall needle color change. White Pine is a good example because it may only hold the current year's new needles and shed two or three year old noodles as shown in the pictures. The newest needles are the ones that the tips of the branches and the oldest needles are the ones that were produced behind this year's growth. Depending on the year pine trees may lose two and three year old needles all in a very short period of time. It's a very normal shedding process and really no reason for concern as long as the tips of the branches retain their new, young, green and healthy needles.
Remember that pine needles can make excellent mulch around plants in your yard and garden.
Pines are not the only Evergreen that will lose needles. Pine, Spruce, Fir, and even Arborvitae will all lose the oldest leaves at some point. Arborvitae foliage also turns yellow and falls off also creates a flurry of phone calls. Many times newly planted Arborvitae may lose a lot of foliage and create concern but as long as the tips retain greens your plants are fine.
Watering your evergreens in the fall (right up until the ground freezes if you're in cold areas) makes a huge difference for keeping your Evergreens healthy and can help prevent winter burn.
As a matter of fact, all trees and shrubs planted this year should be watered sufficiently enough right up until they go dormant this fall to ensure the best transplanting success.