Growing up at my parents’ house, we never owned any mature trees to speak of. The previous owner may have had a couple of Silver Maples, but cut them down because he didn’t want to mow around them and because…well, they were Silver Maples. The only one close to mature was a Norway Maple, roughly 30 ft tall and growing near the power lines. But then it developed a huge split in the trunk and my parents cut it down. My parents still live in that same house and the Ginkgo, Northern Red Oak and Red Maples they planted are all about 30 ft by now.
So last fall (2011), when my wife and I bought a house on a corner suburban lot, you can imagine that I was pretty happy about already having 5 trees on the lot. We’ve been pretty busy since fall 2011 with renovating the house itself and with our 1-1/2 year old son, so it’s only within the last few weeks that I’ve ID’ed the 5 trees. Two of them, one 20 ft and one 40 ft, are Sugar Maples. Awesome, definitely keepers. The other three, growing in a row are Green Ash. Ugh, really?!
For those that may not be aware, Emerald Ash Borer is a bug that has killed 50 million to 100 million Ash trees and threatens the entire North American population of 7.5 billion Ash Trees.
So I did some reaserach on how similar tree diseases have spread in the past. It looks like roughly 4 billion American Chestnut trees once existed in North America. One in four hardwoods in the Appalachian region were American Chestnut. But then Chestnut Blight came along around 1900, probably from foreign timber, and virtually wiped out all American Chestnuts by 1940.
Similarly, Dutch Elm Disease came along around 1928, probably into Ohio from foreign timber. DED spread to Detroit by 1950, Chicago by 1960 and Minneapolis by 1970. Unlike Chestnut Blight, there are still large areas with American Elm populations. Winnipeg, Canada has about 200,000, probably because they spend $4 million annually to aggressively treat and protect their American Elms. But the fact remains that most American Elms have been wiped out.
Which brings us to the present day. Emerald Ash Borer was introduced into North America in the 1990’s, again probably as a foreign contaminant from overseas. Now, in 2012, 50 to 100 million of North America’s 7.5 billion Ash trees have been killed by EAB. If I had to hazard a guess as to how EAB will behave, I’d say it’ll behave similarly to CB and DED and spread and kill most of North America’s Ash trees by the 2030’s. Since I’m in southwestern ohio, closer to the “epicenter” of southern Michigan, my 3 Ash trees will probably get it before other trees in outlying areas such as Iowa will.
Which brings me to the original question in the thread title. If you have any Ash Trees in your yard, how are you preparing?
Judging from emeraldashborer.info, it looks like there are some treatment options available if you own Ash trees. They can be professionally treated every year or two with methods that involve drilling holes into the tree. The only DIY product they recommend is Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insecticide, but that runs around $150 a gallon! You mix 1 oz of product with a bucket of water for every inch of tree trunk circumference. My three Ash trees together have 117 inches of circumference, so I’d have to use a gallon a year now, but more in the coming years as they get bigger.
The only other household product I can find is Bonide Tree and Shrub Insecticide. But I can’t find any good information on how well it works. Its application method is similar to the Bayer stuff.
To answer my own question, I’m leaning toward just cutting down all 3 and replacing them, probably with Northern Red Oaks. We plan on owning this house for at least 20 years, and the trees would just get bigger, more expensive to cut down and more of a liability as time goes on. People don’t know how well treatments work in the long run, so there’d be the constant worry that the trees will be infected anyway. Not to mention that even the $45 a year for the Bayer stuff gets to be $900 after 20 years.
I can probably handle cutting down the two Ash trees on either end of the row. But the one in the middle is the tallest, roughly 50 ft, and the trunk slants obviously right in the direction of the middle of the house. So that one would be left to the professionals. I don’t mind cutting down and replacing the trees. Trees are things that don’t have to be treated and can instead just be replaced. Unlike, say a person with diabetes. But it’s a shame that large tree populations, such as chestnuts, elms and possibly soon, ash, keep getting wiped out. Because every time that happens, we lose a little but of biodiversity.