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OUT ON A LIMB
What should I do about my Ash tree??

Native ash trees (whether white, green or black) make up a large portion of the urban forest across eastern North America.  In Prince Edward County, Quinte West and Belleville area it is hard to go too far without seeing one.  They are a species that grows relatively quickly, is very hardy and has a beautiful full canopy in the summer making it a popular shade and landscape species.  However that all changed in 2002 when Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in both Ontario and Michigan.  Since then this insect has decimated ash populations killing off hundreds of millions of trees, and it isn’t slowing down. 

The adult beetle does very little damage to the host tree, feeding on leaves through the summer.  It is the larvae, or immature beetles living just under the bark that actually kill the trees.  These little grubs eat away the water and nutrient conducting tissues beneath the bark effectively starving the host tree.  Infested trees typically die within 1-3 years. 

As a property owner this is concerning.  Trees that have been a part of the landscape for years are now directly threatened.  Although not rampant in the area yet, the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer is inevitable and choices will need to be made.  Thankfully there is treatment available to save some of the trees.  Direct injections into the trunk controls the larvae for two years before it is needed to be applied again.  While this is a very effective management tool, it is impractical for those with a large percentage of ash or with a limited budget. 

Care should be taken in deciding which trees to save.  Trees that are irreplaceable, heritage specimens or that have sentimental value are excellent candidates.  If you are considering to treat an ash on your property do not wait for the insect to reach it.  Preventative treatment is the most effective and your tree will have the best chance of survival.  Once the canopy reaches a 30% thinning and/or die back the treatment may not be as effective.    

If you decide not to inoculate your ash tree the next step is to know when to have it professionally removed.  Put simply, your tree generally has its most strength when the canopy is fully green.  A completely dead tree can be very unpredictable and dangerous.  Especially in restricted areas where an aerial device (bucket truck or crane) cannot reach, it is important to have the tree removed when it is still safe to work on.  This will keep the cost of removal lower for you, as well as make the removal process safer and more enjoyable to those completing it.  As we go through the next growing season keep an eye on your trees.  When infested by EAB the canopy will dieback and/or thin out from the top down.  Also new sprouts on the lower trunk of the tree can indicate the insects’ presence.  Once the top 1/3 of the canopy is leafless, you should consult with a Certified Arborist to get a quote for removal.

Opting to replace trees now is also a great idea.  Planting new trees while your ash are still alive and well will give the replacement species a chance to get established.  This way there will be a transition from one species to another without leaving your property bare.  Some excellent replacement species are Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Honey Locust, American Sycamore and Hackberry.  Consulting with a professional before planting will ensure that a species is chosen that fits your needs and will thrive in your specific area. 

County Arborists is proud to announce that we will be offering Emerald Ash Borer Control this season.  If you have any questions regarding your tree, or if you would like a quote please fill out a “Contact Us” form or give us a call at 613-969-6788.

For more information about Emerald Ash Borer in our area check out the links below.

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/plants/plant-protection/insects/emerald-ash-borer/eng/1337273882117/1337273975030

http://emeraldashborer.info/index.cfm#sthash.InfzUYxM.dpbs

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Should it be 'Axed' ?

For many of us this is a question that has come up in the past, or maybe it is an issue right now.  Deciding whether to cut down a tree is an important decision for property owners and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Once a tree is felled it is most likely irreplaceable.  First I would suggest working out the following questions to form a Pro’s and Con’s list.  This is a very basic way to decide your course of action.  It is important to hire or consult with a Certified Arborist before proceeding to do/have the actual work done.

Should it be 'Axed' ?

#1. Is the tree a desirable species?

This might seem like a simple question, but none the less it is still valid.  All species are different and each is suited to a different environment.  Some aspects to consider are as follows.  What is the strength of the wood?  Are there any serious pests that affect the tree? Does it drop a lot of debris?  Is the root system deep or shallow? What is the estimated size the tree will reach? Is it an invasive species? 

#2. How healthy is the tree?

Another important thing to consider.  Leaving a tree in decline can create a dangerous and costly issue in the future.  Determining the health of a tree should be left to a professional Certified Arborist.  They will be able to verify the condition of the tree and provide a course of action.  As a homeowner, watch the top of the canopy.  If your tree begins to die from the top down a consultation is warranted.  Also previous work done on a tree can have adverse effects many years down the road.  “Topping” or the drastic reduction in height leads to weakened new growth resulting in breakage.  A professional should have an idea of previous work by looking at the current canopy. 

#3. Is there trunk damage?

Watching for splits, cracks and hollows in the trunk of your tree is very important.  These usually point to a weak area and internal decay.  Also fungus on the bark or near the trunk can be a sign of rot.  If any of these symptoms are visible they should be evaluated by a professional.            

#4. Has there been excavating near the tree causing root damage?

If 50% or more of the root plate has been damaged the tree should probably be removed.  Also trees that have been buried by any more than 8 cm of soil will likely begin a gradual decline.  However if this is caught early enough, before the signs of stress begin to show many can be saved.

#5. Is the tree leaning?

This can be a serious issue.  While some trees simply grow on a lean and strengthen themselves to support their canopies, ones that suddenly develop a lean should be evaluated by a professional.  This can be a sign of weakening or damaged roots and should most likely be removed.

 

These are some simple ways to do a self-evaluation of your trees.  There are other factors to consider that are site specific and can be explained by a Certified Arborist.  Having a professional opinion can potentially give a preservation option that allows to tree to remain safe and standing.  Many goals can be reached through pruning, support systems and some preventative measures.  Also you can rest assured that the right decision was made one way or the other. 

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The Proper Pruning Cut

Almost everyone has had a run in with a pesky tree limb that is just a little to low, little to long or simply in the way.  Whether is knocks your hat off every time you mow the grass or has died off due to a lack of light it has to go.  So out comes the saw, loppers or axe...

At this point I would encourage the use of a proper pruning technique.  It will take a little longer but makes the correct cut a cinch.  Below is a simple diagram of a very basic tree limb to be removed with this tree step process.

First thing to do is go out the limb 15-20 centimetres and make a cut on the bottom side towards the top about 1/3 of the way through.  Be careful you do not cut through to far as the weight of the limb has a tendency the pinch the saw.  This small cut will prevent the limb from tearing down the trunk or remaining attached to the tree. 

Secondly make a cut on the top side of the branch 2-3 centimetres farther out.  Keep cutting until the limb has been removed.  At this point there should only be a stub attached to the tree.

The third and final step is to remove the stub.  Before any cut is made identify the the branch collar.  This will be a raised ridge that slightly bulges out at the base of the branch.  It is important not to remove this as it is from here that the tree will begin to seal over the cut.  Position your blade so that it is just past the the branch collar and cut through, removing the stub.

By doing this you have ensured that no tearing on the trunk has occured.  Also by leaving the branch collar attached the tree can seal over the cut much faster.  This helps the tree stay healthy as decay, disease and insects often enter through improper cuts and other wounds.  The aesthetics of your tree are also improved leaving a finished look. This process should only be completed on smaller branches that are within reach from the ground.  Please consult with a professional arborist if there is work to be completed aloft or when removing branches and limbs over 20 centimetres in diameter.  Both are dangerous and could be negative to your trees health.

 

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