Two Shady Friends

A Canopy of Cover

One (ahem…two) of the things I really like about my house are the big shade trees; one in the front yard, one in the back.  I do not know how old they are but surely by their size they had to be on this land long before the roads were laid and houses built.

Last summer (2011) I knew the trees really needed to be pruned as they both were looking scraggly with a lot of leafless branches.  I thought the condition of the tree was due to the need of  a good trim and that there were a bunch of branches grouped together making it difficult for all of them to grow, hence the dying limbs.

I finally called an Arborist and asked if they could come out and give me a quote for the long overdue trimming.  Well, said Arborist was not at my door a full two minutes before delivering grim news about the Ash tree in my front yard; we have “Emerald Ash Borers”; and they are killing my tree.  I was dumbfounded!

Emerald Ash Borer

Having never heard about the Emerald Ash creature, I immediately got online and started researching.  They are a beetle originally from Asia and as of August 1, 2012 they have been found in  sixteen US states and Canada.

I have called the US Department of Forestry, the Kentucky Urban Forestry, and the Arbor Day Foundation trying to find out if there are any “grants” available to homeowners which will help offset the removal and replacement of another species of tree that is not in danger of being infested by any known tree killers.  Unfortunately, grants are only being offered to “communities” and cities which have Ash lined streets where the trees need to be removed.

The Ole’ Boy in the Backyard

According to research, a tree can be completely overtaken and die within two years of the first sign of the beetle.  As you can see, the Ole Boy in my backyard is just about to give up.  He is the worst of the two and has lost all the leaves on his lower limbs and overall has probably lost about 45% of his greenery in the last year.

When we first moved into the home, we considered removing the Ole Boy out back to make way for a 2nd story deck.  I wouldn’t hear of it and would rather forgo the deck and keep the tree, so we did.  I have only been in the house for two full years now and the thought of looking out of my upper-level office window for a quick break during the day and not seeing the Ole Boy standing there, straining to offer some shade to my day will be heartbreaking.  I have some winter pictures of the tree standing tall and grand while supporting one-half inch of snow on his branches, ahh…what a beautiful sight, one that will be missed.  Until the date has been arranged, my backyard buffer to the world will remain in place, but sadly I note he had seen his last winter and this time next year, he will be but a memory.

Backyard Ash Tree

To learn more about the EAB, visit the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture’s website here.  Several groups, including the Forestry Dept., Arborists and others alike are diligently fighting to stop the beetle and keep it from moving deeper into the States.  Sadly though, based on the ground they have already overtaken and trees devoured and killed, I fear the humans (and trees) are set to lose this battle against the beetle.

All that remains for me to do is decide when to cease their survival struggle and arrange for their removal before they give under their own weight.

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