What are you doing about your threatened ash trees?

A branch has sheared off this ash tree weakened by emerald ash borer.

The destructive effects of the emerald ash borer on the local tree population are especially prevalent this summer. Infested trees become a risk to you and your neighbors. If there’s an ash tree on your property, take steps now to avoid having to pay for an emergency tree removal or repairs to property damaged by falling trees or limbs. Here are some tips from Lenexa Parks & Recreation.

How bad is the problem?

Adult emerald ash borer beetle. Photo credit: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service Bugwood.org

The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that is deadly to all types of ash trees. The trees become infested when adult beetles lay eggs on the bark. The eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the tree. They tunnel between the bark and wood and disrupt water and nutrient movement, eventually killing the tree. 

This pest is now well established in the Kansas City area and is expected to kill nearly all of the region’s ash trees. Unfortunately, Johnson County is heavily planted with ash trees, so this will have a major impact on our urban forest. (For example, nearly 25 percent of Lenexa’s street trees are ash.) 

Identify ash trees and signs of infestation

Emerald ash borer only affects ash trees. If you think a tree on your property may be an ash, use an identification guide to confirm the tree’s species. (Live in Lenexa? Consult our map of ash street trees on private property.)

Signs of emerald ash borer infestation include:

  • D-shaped exit holes in the bark that are about 1/8 inch wide.
  • S-shaped tunnels just under the bark.
  • Thinning leaves or branches.
  • Vertical splits in the bark.
  • Unusual shoots on the main trunk or base of the tree.
  • Damage from woodpeckers.

Decide whether to treat or remove your tree

If an ash tree looks healthy and shows few signs of emerald ash borer, you may be able to treat the tree with pesticides. If you choose to treat the tree, you must continue to do so for the duration of the tree’s life. A certified arborist can help you determine whether this is a good option for your tree and administer professional treatment.

Infested ash tree with canopy dieback and secondary shoots at the base of the trunk.

If the tree looks unhealthy and shows signs of infestation, it should be removed. In Lenexa, property owners are responsible for removing dead or dying trees, whether they’re located along the street or in a backyard. Check with your city to find out who is accountable for tree maintenance if you’re not sure.

Homeowners may be able to remove smaller trees. When hiring a professional, look for insured contractors with certified arborists on staff. If you live in an a neighborhood with many ash trees, ask if your homeowners association is willing to solicit group bids from tree removal services to get better pricing.
Consider replacing your tree
While replacing your tree isn’t required, we encourage you to do so to keep our urban forest thriving and beautiful. Trees offer precious shade, reduce energy costs, filter pollutants from the air and water, absorb and block sound, provide habitat for wildlife, and many more benefits. Wondering what to plant? Many cities have a list of approved or recommended street trees.

In Lenexa, if you are removing an ash tree that is planted near the street, you may be eligible for our Street Tree Replacement Program. The City of Lenexa will provide a 50% refund on the cost of replacing an ash tree, up to $200 per property.