When I planted a white ash tree about 10 years ago, I never dreamed I’d be chopping it down while it was still healthy. But I did just that earlier this season and took the loppers to the tree while it was sending out new leaves.
I decided to take action now instead of waiting for the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) to take it out one day in the future.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I liked this tree a lot, especially in the fall when the leaves turned a brilliant yellow. But it’s only a matter of time before the dreaded EAB makes its way into my landscape and forces my hand.
The tiny Emerald Ash Borer has already caused the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in at least 20 states and now it’s in Colorado.
I chose to remove the tree this season to avoid my limited options in the future. Like other ash-tree owners, I’d have to decide whether to budget for the expense of treating a taller tree with insecticides every one or two years to prevent EAB damage or wait for the borers to kill the tree slowly and then hire someone to remove it for me.
Now that this ash tree is gone, I can take my time and find another kind of tree to replace it.
Then I’ll be able to focus my preventive efforts on the much larger ash that shades most of the front yard. That tree is more valuable and will be worth the cost of treating it, once the time comes.
Right now, home owners and urban foresters in and around Boulder are trying to make the same kinds of decisions. They’re deciding whether to treat their trees with insecticides — while weighing the costs with the environmental hazards; measuring the effectiveness with ease of application.
If you have ash trees on your property, you’ll have to make similar decisions in the future, too. Now’s a good time to start thinking of what you’ll do once the EAB invades your landscape. Would you remove a healthy ash tree as a drastic measure to prevent EAB in the future?
There are some good resources to help you decide, including CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management website and the Colorado Department of Agriculture EAB website that includes an Ash Tree Zone interactive map and a way to sign up for the EAB newsletter to stay informed.
By Jodi Torpey
A Denver master gardener