The Ashes Follow the Willow

After finally succumbing to the Emerald Ash Borer, we have had the two Ash trees removed.

If you live long enough in one home, you eventually outlast the trees you planted.  I’ve written before how barren of trees our property was when we first moved into the neighborhood.  We could look out our back window into the farm field across the two-lane state route 41.  We spent the first few years hauling small saplings in the trunk of my father-in-law’s LTD out to the house.  Our property has a healthy four inches of top soil covering (at least) two feet of clay (I’ve never been able to dig a hole deep enough to judge the depth of the clay).  Digging holes for each of those trees was not something I enjoyed.

But now those trees are dying off.  In the spring, the Corkscrew Willow came crashing down across our back yard.   The Ash trees we purchased as a set twenty years ago were our most recent departures.  Both trees have spent the past two years slowly eaten away by the Emerald Ash Borer.  It was obvious they were struggling.  Entire limbs were suddenly devoid of leaves and in the fall the leaves fell earlier than they had in any previous year.  This year, in a desperate attempt to stay alive, each tree had started sending out new shoots from the base of the tree.

We’ve been talking about having the tree removed almost a year now (we are at times a little deliberate in our decision-making).  We had a few companies in mind and planned on having a few out to give us quotes.  The plan was to be deliberate and get quotes from a variety of contractors and select the one with whom we were most comfortable.  So like many of our plans, the opposite happened.  The very first contractor showed up, gave us a great quote and said he’d have the trees out that same day.  Like any spontaneous couple (that’s sarcasm folks), we accepted his offer.

We were both pretty skeptical.  It was 7:00 by the time we gave him the go-ahead to remove the trees.  We kept thinking there was no way they’d get both trees out before it got dark.  We were wrong.  We heard them outside before we saw them.  A crew of about six and three trucks were on the road in front of the house.  They set up a chipper in the street feeding into a truck.  The owner used a chainsaw on a pole to trim the upper branches while the crew fed each limb into the chipper.  It was a very hard working crew and both Becky, and I were impressed.  When it came time for the tree to fall the crew cleared out while the owner notched the tree and down it fell.  The crew descended on the tree either feeding it in to the chipper or setting the big pieces aside.  The smaller Ash at the side of the house was a little more challenging. It was sitting in a smaller space and harder to fall without damaging our house, fence or surrounding trees.  After about 90 minutes they had both trees down, and the property mostly cleaned up – very efficient.  The stumps are all that remained (and they got those the following morning).

Our neighbor across the street asked if he could have the wood for his mother-in-law.  She heats her home with firewood.  He’s been good to the neighbors, so we were glad to help him out.  He hauled away the remains of the tree the following weekend.  Like everything else we put out at the street in our neighborhood, he had to contend with people driving by believing the wood was theirs for the taking (even as he cut it into smaller more easily moved pieces).  Becky did retain one piece of the smaller Ash as a remembrance of the two trees.

Finally, the bonus was the crew chopping up the remainder of the Corkscrew Willow in the back yard.  I’ve tried and tried to cut that thing up with my chainsaw, but it’s just not up to the task.

All of the photos (before and after) are available here.