Biting the borer before it bites back

I am talking about the emerald ash borer. But before we go there, let’s start with page one, chapter one.

So far, I already have cut down two trees – the mulberry tree that was in front of the house, and the tree of heaven in our neighbors yard that was right next to our house. I am now about to add a third tree to the list: The ash tree in the vacant lot.


Before you think that I am an arbophobe (if there is such a thing), let me make my case.

There has been an emerald ash borer infestation in Illinois and in our community. It is an almost certain death sentence for our ash tree that hosts this little, shiny, bright green beetle.

Our friend Anne participated in a tree evaluation in Douglas Park about two years ago. The verdict was that most ash trees in the park were infected. The following winter, tree crews moved in, taking down ash trees – a lot of them.

The crews were back last fall and early winter, taking down every single remaining ash tree in the park. We lost a lot of trees! While few still looked normal, most showed at least the first signs of the ash borer infection, while others had been standing dead for a year already.

We are only half a block west of Douglas Park, and we have that ash tree in the yard. The last thing I want to add to the look of our yard was a dead tree among the piles of building materials I am hoarding.

And the borer has made our tree his home. Woodpeckers like to go after the emerald ash borer larvae. Extensive woodpecker damage on an ash tree is a typical sign of an ash borer infestation. And that woodpecker damage was hard to miss.


Rather than being sorry later in the year, I decided to be proactive now and bust out the saws.

ash-tree-02 ash-tree-03

With the ash tree gone, its neighbor – the smaller elm tree – may appreciate the extra room to grow and prosper. That’s the silver lining of this story that I’m holding on to.

Related posts:

Mulberry tree not to be

Rooting for removal


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

One thought on “Biting the borer before it bites back

  1. I hate to break the news but that elm tree is far too close to your foundation. Letting it continue to grow will only cause significant foundation damage in the future.

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