BEFORE and AFTER Removal of Ash Tree and Burning Bushes – 6/26/14
We’ve known for several years that the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer was headed to our area and it wanted our ash tree, the only large tree left on our lot. (We had a very large willow taken out of our backyard about 15 years ago.) I tried to hold it off as long as I could by treating it every May. However, this year about 3/4 of it failed to leaf out (see BEFORE picture above). Although we couldn’t spot any D-shaped holes, we knew our tree had succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer.
The time came to take it down when neighbors down the street were having their ash cut down and the tree guys made an offer to cut ours, too. We asked them to take down the overgrown burning bushes as well, which were behind the hydrangeas in the bed behind the ash tree. The burning bushes had provided a nice leafy background (especially when they turned color in the fall!) to the left of our house, and along with the ash tree, they were the only plants that remained from the original front yard landscaping. However, as a master gardener I was aware of the problems with burning bush being invasive in our natural areas. Ours may not have been the worst culprit, but all the cultivars can be a problem so I’d already decided that we would have them taken out at the same time we had the ash cut down. In addition, my husband wanted them out of there so he could do some work around the foundation on that side of the house. After he is done, we will replace them with something else. (There are good suggestions for replacement here and elsewhere.)
Meanwhile, the shade garden on that side of the house suffered through the summer without shade. The hostas fared the worst. They got all bleached out and bug bitten. Over the next few years, while we’re waiting for the replacement tree to grow big enough to provide shade, I hope to plant large leafy annuals around them (perhaps castor bean plants) in an attempt to protect them from full afternoon sun.
As for replacing the ash tree, I wanted to go with a native species, and I asked Marcy Stewart-Pyziak, who had designed my front yard garden, for suggestions. (I certainly did not want to replace it with the same tree as everyone else–the tree guys were suggesting Sunset Maple. That would potentially set our area up for another loss of many trees at once if another species specific problem, such as the Emerald ASH Borer or Dutch ELM Disease, should hit.) Then I looked up her suggestions on the Illinois Wildflowers and Possibility Place websites. I decided on a Chinquapin Oak (also spelled Chinkapin). Yesterday (9/12/14) I went to Possibility Place and picked out our new tree. Here it is!