Evening walks around my neighborhood with the dogs are not as serene as they once were. We live in one of the thousands of suburban neighborhoods that have the ever popular ash trees lining our aging neighborhood streets. I have watched all summer as the streets suffer from the devastating emerald ash bore infestation. Thick lush shade has been replaced by decayed thinning trees. In our city, the local government estimates that 23 percent of the street trees are ash. This number is considered very low as it does not take into account parks, trails or private property. We will soon be one of the victims. Our once shady landscape will soon have the baron look of new construction. The back patio that I spend warm evenings basking in the shade of a 30 year old ash are coming to a close. It was more dappled than full shade this summer. Even though the city has decided not to treat the ash trees against the emerald ash borer they are willing to bear the brunt of the removal cost for trees within 11 feet of the curb. There are plans to replant, however I am more than sure the cost will out way the funds available.
Forced to come to realization that removal is inevitable, I am becoming more comfortable with the thought of a new planting. It doesn't hurt that we have truckloads of container trees arriving at Loma Vista in Olathe and Manuel is preparing to dig fall trees in Baldwin. Traffic has picked up to a swarm here in the nursery. How can you resist the temptation to plant when everyone else is? New varieties and some old favorites have me thinking about replacements. There are so many options. State Street Maple has a beautiful shape and drought tolerance. Fall Fiesta, Green Mountain Sugar and Pacific Sunset Maple are great options as well. In an attempt to never run into a total loss of vegetation again I plan to diversify my planting. A few Royal Raindrops crabs around the patio for color and interest may not bring much shade but they will screen the neighbors and add to the anticipation of spring. In the front yard, the State Street Maple will lure fall in with its yellowing foliage.
We hope to take advantage of this fall planting time while the soil is easy to dig. The weather is comfortable enough to enjoy the process. Weeds are beginning to decline. Most disease and pests are less active and therefore less of a threat to tender vegetation. Once the leaves do fall there is still time for roots to grow as long as the soil temperature remains above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Perhaps this renewed optimism will bring the much needed excitement necessary to get over the loss of shade.