The cracks in the mulch/soil indicate the ground is way too dry for a new ninebark. The green soaker hose needs to be much closer to do any good. If any stems are dead - dried out and no thin green circle just under the bark, cut them back to live wood or to the ground if no live wood present. Water and lay down a 3 inch mulch. After watering, use a trowel to dig down 8 inches and see if the soil is moist that deep. If not, water longer. July is brutal on new plants. Nine bark grows well in full sun to part shade. If yours is in full sun, consider relocating it or putting up a temporary shade cloth until the plant looks better. If you live in a hot weather region, relocate it to part shade (4 hours sunlight daily). Give the shrub a half-dose of quick-acting (liquid) nitrogen now. I notice that you have been regularly pruning it at a low height. It must be a dwarf variety. May I suggest that you prune only a few of the oldest wooden stems annually in winter or after flowering. Cut them to the ground. It is much better for the plant if it is put in an area where it is allowed to grow to mature height. Constant height reduction is stressful to the plant and ultimately results in "witches brooms" at the tips which are unattractive and which block sunlight from reaching the plant's interior.
Answered on July 19, 2018
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