Scales of Justice

Liability for Hazardous Trees

Many municipalities have ordinances related to nuisance and hazardous trees.  At a minimum their ordinances say a property owner is responsible for removing nuisance/hazardous trees.   For example, the West Des Moines website says:

"Removal of dead, diseased, or insect-ridden trees on private property that are deemed a nuisance or a hazard is the responsibility of the property owner."

Some city websites are more expansive.  They address treating trees in addition to removing them.  For example, the City of Urbandale website says:

"Urbandale residents and business owners are responsible for the treatment or removal of infested ash trees on their respective property.  There are three common treatment methods being used: trunk injection, soil injection, and soil drenching. Research has proven that the trunk injection method has been the most successful in preserving the ash tree. The DNR and City staff encourages the trunk injection method as the most successful treatment as well as the safest for the environment. The other methods used have proven more likely to leach or drift from the target area and be a danger to ground water supplies. The City encourages residents to consider using contractors who choose to primarily use the trunk injection method of treatment."

In most cases the city owns the strip of land between the sidewalk and street. Some cities will accommodate a homeowner's desire to preserve an ash tree on a right-of-way in front of their house.  For example, the City of Johnston website says:

"Residents who are interested in treating ash trees that are located on city right-of-way, must follow a permit system. The permitting system is free, and necessary for our Parks Department to keep track of which city trees have been treated."

Stay safe stay legal.  Check your city's website.

Dead Tree Danger

What will happen if you don't treat your ash trees or have them safely removed?  If your trees are in an infected area this year (2018), they will almost certainly be dead by 2024 and possibly as soon as 2022.  All of metro Des Moines, Iowa is consider an infected area.  You should have your trees injected with emamectin benzoate this year, if they haven't been treated already.  Emamectin benzoate is sold under a number of different trade names (TREE-äge, Boxer, Arbormectin).

Dead ash trees are very brittle.  If 10 ash trees die in the same year, only 5 will be standing 5 years later and all will have toppled over after 10 years.  Also keep in mind dead trees are more expensive to take down than live ones, because they're so dangerous.

If you are in an infected area and you let your ash trees go, they will become a hazard, and you could be responsible for any death, damage, or injury they might cause.

Fortunately new technologies are available that make safe, cost-effective treatments possible. We encourage you to contact us, so you can keep your trees, enjoy their benefits, and not have to pay for removal.

Identifying emerald Ash Borer symptoms

Click here to learn the symptoms of an emerald ash borer infection.

An ash tree limb going through a car windshield
An ash tree limb going through a car windshield, Chicago 2015
Good thing the fallen limb didn't land on the bicyclist
Good thing the fallen limb didn't land on the bicyclist, Chicago 2015
Ash Tree Collapse

The rate at which dead ash trees collapse

The graph on the left was generated form unpublished EAB monitoring plot data from Knight KS, Flower CE, Kappler R, Hoven BM, and Long R.  The trunks of dead ash trees are very brittle.  Sometimes the trees snap off near at the base and sometimes they snap off midway up the trunk or higher.

The EAB epidemic Kills 99% over 4 -6 years

Typically in an urban setting 99% of the untreated ash trees will be dead within 6 years of the start of an EAB epidemic.  The graph on the right is based on unpublished EAB monitoring plot data from Knight KS, Flower CE, Kappler R, Hoven BM, and Long R.

Stratford Graph 1

Next Steps...

Do you have questions about emerald ash borer symptoms?  We offer free advice, free inspections, and free estimates.  Give us a call.  Drop us a line.  We look forward to hearing from you!