Ash trees great, but keep borer

A year ago, our Russian olive tree blew over. We are finally ready to replace it. We have friends who have a Patmore ash and are pleased with it, so we are seriously considering one. Could you send us your thoughts, positive and negative. Is there a better choice?

— Jim

Patmore ash is a great tree. It has become our most common variety of green ash to use as a shade tree. They’re strong, clean and moderately fast growing (12–18 inches per year).

The only cloud in this otherwise clear sky is that they can have problems with ash borer.

We’ve always had this little devil around, it just seems to be more prevalent the past several years. It may be that we’re going through a “high point” in any insect’s natural cycle or it may be here to stay because we’ve planted so many in the valley.

I don’t want you to think that your tree will get it, but it’s just more common today than it used to be.

One aspect about ash borer to keep in mind is that stress on the tree play an important part in ash borer becoming a problem. We tend to see this in trees that are weak or under stress for one reason or another.

The best preventative you can use is to do all you can to make sure the tree is as happy and healthy as you can make it. There are effective spray treatments you can use, but who wants to do that if he doesn’t have to?

There are lots of alternative shade trees out there. You could consider Catalpa, Kentucky coffeetree, frontier elm, Turkish Filbert, ginkgo, hackberry, honeylocust, linden, burr oak, heritage oak, London plane sycamore or zelkova. None of these trees is “perfect” (but then neither is ash).

They might bear pods or seeds, grow a little slower, or drop their leaves gradually through the fall and winter, but I think that they are wonderfully attractive trees that add diversity to our urban landscape and they won’t add to the problems with insect pests that we’re fighting now.

Come on out when you get a chance, and we can show you pictures of them and provide some information for you to make a decision.

I am considering purchasing a home with a huge 75-year-old or so cottonwood tree in the backyard. But I don’t really know much about cottonwoods. Do you have any general info about diseases, insects, care and tips concerning mature cottonwoods in Grand Junction?

— Robert

The answer to your question depends on the overall condition of the tree right now. Cottonwoods, maintained properly, can live for 100 years or more.

Is the tree full and lush with good vigorous growth and foliage color? Is there any dieback? Was the tree improperly pruned in the past? Has there been any digging or degrading of the soil in the past five years in the vicinity of the tree? How has the tree been maintained in the last eight or 10 years?

Again, I’m probably asking questions that you can’t fully answer, but that information is necessary to predicting how healthy the tree is now and how well it will do for you in the years to come.

You might want to consider hiring a consulting arborist to evaluate the tree. This person will have the training and experience to help answer these questions.

You’ll have to pay for their services, but if the tree is important enough, it’s money well spent.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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