There is nothing like the warmer weather to make people look at their gardens and trees and wonder about this growing season. Predictably, I receive many concerns about emerald ash borers infesting ash trees. Now that this insect has been found in at least one city ash tree in St. Boniface, we know it is continuing to spread through the city. Of course, we really don’t know how fast it will spread. The experience with this pest is that you deal with it the best way that you can. Which means that many ash trees will eventually need to be removed.
Some people are waiting for their trees to be infested and ask me to come and look at their trees to check out if the hole or holes they observe means that their trees are infested. Others want to be proactive and gradually replant with other tree species now.
When I am asked to come to inspect a property, I am often asked what is the best tree to replace a tree which is creating a problem for the property owner.
Here are some of the factors I consider when I am asked to suggest one or more replacement trees.
Where are the existing trees and woody shrubs on your property? If you remove one or more ash trees, would you be able to easily replant new trees without overcrowding them?
Will you be removing the tree stump? The stumps of the removed ash trees will likely be needed to be removed. Keeping stumps in one’s yard limits your options for replanting new trees and other landscaping plants. There are arborist services you can call on to arrange for stump removal. I believe that removing the stump to at least the depth of 18 inches allows the property owner the greatest flexibility in locating new trees and landscaping.
What’s below the location? Always check for below ground surface constraints before digging and planting. Hydro has field staff who can assist the property owner in locating underground facilities.
What’s above the location? Always look above the location for overhead wires where new trees are to be planted. Avoiding future conflicts with the growing tree is critically important in deciding where to plant it. Nursery-grown trees are usually quite small, but do you know how large and how rapidly your selected tree will grow over its expected lifetime? Always check with the nursery supplier or with an arborist.
Be careful where you plant your new tree. For a number of reasons, many people like to plant trees close to property boundaries. In their mind, it gives them spatial options for working in the yard in the future. From my experience, I can state that owners of problem fence line trees can end up in courtroom property disputes.
How big is the property? As a rule of thumb, the smaller the yard, the replacement tree should be proportionally smaller.
I have assessed many properties for future tree-planting opportunities. Sometimes the property owner wants to establish indigenous (native) trees and woody shrubs, or there is a specific type of tree they have in mind and from their perspective, a perfect place to plant it. They ask me to visit their property as they want assurance this species is the best disease-resistant choice.
I can advise the property owner on the decision-making process to ensure their ideal tree is planted in the best location.
I predict there will be a tree-buying spree in the wake of emerald ash borers by property owners wishing to replace their ash trees regardless of if they are infested or not. My advice is to use replacement trees which are grown and will grow in the Manitoba region. Trees brought in by big-box stores at a good price are tempting, but may not be well inspected/selected or compatible with our weather conditions. There are many good suppliers of trees in the southern Manitoba region. If you are looking for hardy trees that will not grow very large, I recommend that you visit Jefferies Nursery in Portage La Prairie. Their colourful catalogues with numerous species of newer varieties can be very helpful in choosing trees, especially for tight growing areas in small yards.