Article from Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune
When an ash tree is dead or dying because it has been infested with the emerald ash borer, a saddened homeowner must confront the next step: getting it cut down. Because its wood is brittle, a dead ash must be left standing. “It’s a safety hazard, ” says Beth Corrigan, Community Trees Program specialist with The Morton Aboretum in Lisle. Limbs can break, endangering people and causing property damage, or the entire tree can fall.
The ash tree dies by drying out, because the borers cut off the vessels that carry moisture out to the branches, Corrigan says. The wood already has become brittle before its end.
“Some kinds of trees can stand for many years after they die, but the ash tree is not one of them,” Corrigan says.
If a tree in the forest, “it provides a wonderful habitat for many plants and animals, ” she says. “But if it dies in your yard, you want it gone.” A falling tree or branches could harm people or damage buildings and cars.
It can cost a property owner hundreds or even thousands of dollars to have a tree cut down, depending on its size, location and condition. But those who fail to promptly remove dead ash trees because of the trouble and expense may find the delay is costly. Many municipalities have the legal power to remove hazardous trees and bill the homeowner for the cost. They can place a lien against the property to collect.
Has someone advised you to wait until the tree falls, in the hope that homeowners’ insurance will cover the cost of the damage and removal? That’s a bad bet, Corrigan says. Increasingly, insurance companies are refusing to pay such claims on the grounds that the homeowner was negligent in not removing the dead tree.
Since the tree may already be unstable and dangerous, it’s wise to hire a trained, certified, insured professional arborist to do the job. Find an arborist through the websites of the International Society of Arboriculture or the Illinois Arborist Association. Corrigan suggests that you ask to see the firm’s certificate of insurance and make sure the date is current.
Don’t delay, she says, because the more the tree dries out the more risky – and expensive – the job will become.
Beth Botts is a staff writer at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle (mortonarb.org). For tree and plant advice, contact the Arboretum’s plant Clinic (630-719-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org).