Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Should you treat or cut down your ash tree?

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Many residents were saddened and even angered that city crews felled ash trees in Traxler and Upper Courthouse parks in recent weeks.

It hurts to see beautiful trees that apparently weren’t yet infected by the emerald ash borer succumb to chain saws. Yet doing nothing is not an option because the borers will kill untreated ash trees except for the mountain ash—and treatment isn’t cheap.

Last Saturday morning, my wife and I joined a packed crowd gathered at K&W Greenery to hear Bayer experts discuss the borers and treatment. A 32-ounce bottle of their insecticide costs about $25 and is enough to treat a tree 32 inches in circumference. Yet they advise those wishing to save mature trees with trunks larger than 60 inches at about 4½ feet off the ground to hire professionals who can inject a two-year dose of insecticide under the bark.

K&W has started offering these treatments, but I heard it costs $8 an inch. I went home and measured our mature ash tree on our side terrace. At about shoulder height, I measured it at 85 inches. Wow, I thought, calculating the costs.

I contacted K&W, and that cost is right—except the per-inch charge measures diameter, not circumference. The staffer I spoke with estimated the two-year treatment cost at about $230. I called another local company and found its price even more expensive.

My wife and I have attended three seminars now—one at the courthouse last summer and another last fall at K&W. We bought the Bayer product at a discount last fall but decided it was too late in the season to be effective, so we haven’t used it yet. Now we’re guessing it won’t be potent enough to save such a large tree and that the injections would be the best bet.

Yet if we start treatments, those must continue for the life of the tree—and an ash can live to be 100.

We’re still unsure what to do. Last year we cut down that tree’s twin, which was dying of some unknown problem other than emerald ash borers and spent about $1,000 for removal, stump grinding and buying and planting a small hackberry tree to replace it. That ash and the remaining one were both on our home’s west side, and the loss of shade was surprising and heated our home during a sweltering summer even more.

All I know is we must decide in the next couple of weeks and that whatever route we choose—removing the tree and starting over or likely treating it as long as it lives—will cost us a lot of money.

Our editorial Thursday will offer more perspectives on this plight facing the city and homeowners.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:20 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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