By now, most people know that the Ash tree population in central Ohio is being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer. Many homeowners, businesses, municipalities and golf courses are dealing with the unfortunate loss of these once beautiful shade trees.
Ash trees were long considered a favorite for those wanting a fast growing shade tree that were tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions. Some of the improved cultivars of Ash such as Patmore, Marshall’s Seedless and Summit were extremely popular. In fact, our company has planted hundreds if not thousands of them over the years.
Now that many people have had to remove their Ash trees due to infestation by the Emerald Ash Borer, we are often asked for replacement tree suggestions. Our professional landscape designers have compiled a list of suggestions based on several factors. First, we wanted to pick out trees that are going to be medium to fast growing, but in order to make the list the tree must also be strong. Many trees that are fast growing are also “weak wooded” meaning that they have problems with branch breakage and are often messy.
Secondly, the trees needed to be reasonably available. It does no good to suggest a promising tree variety that has been recently introduced, but that have not yet had time to grow to a suitable landscape size at the nursery.
Third, in order to make the list the trees must be hardy for our area of central Ohio, which is USDA Hardiness Zone 6a.
Please note that since the primary value of Ash trees were for their abundant shade, this list contains suggested replacements that will provide shade. If you are interested in a smaller,ornamental tree, please see my earlier blog article titled “My Favorite Ornamental Trees”.
Here is the list as it currently stands:
Autumn Blaze Red Maple- (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffers Red’)
A cross between Red and Silver Maples so you get the Fast Growth of the Silver Maple with the Fall Color of the Red Maple. ‘Autumn Blaze’ will reach a mature height of approximately 50’ with a spread of 40’ with an upright, oval growing habit.
An added plus is this trees Drought Tolerance.
Red Sunset Red Maple- (Acer rubrum ‘Franks Red’)
Is an improved cultivar of Red Maple that will grow approximately 45’ tall by 35’ wide and has an upright oval growing habit. It’s hallmark is its Bright Orange Red to Red Fall Color.
RedPointe Red Maple- (Acer rubrum ‘Frank Jr.’)
Has a brilliant red fall color and is a fast growing variety that will reach 45’ tall by 30’ wide and grows in an upright pyramidal habit. Drought tolerance and insect resistance are added benefits.
Horsechestnut- (Aesculus × carnea ‘Ft. McNair’)
A rounded, symmetrical tree with striking pink flowers in the Spring. 30’ tall by 30’ wide. Resistant to Leaf Blotch Disease.
Skyline Honeylocust- (Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Skycole’)
An upright, spreading form maturing to 45’ tall by 35’ wide
Summerburst Kentucky Coffee Tree- (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘JFS- Sunleaf’)
Unique tree for its large bright yellow blooms in June and July when not many other plants are flowering. Will reach 30’ tall by 30’ wide with a Medium Growth Rate.
Tuliptree- (Liriodendron tulipifera)
A large, fast growing shade tree that is tolerant of wet areas. Tulip trees will reach 60 to 100’ tall. Best transplanted in Spring. Can have some early leaf drop when in drought conditions.
Red Oak- (Quercus rubra)
One of the fastest growing Oaks with a nice red fall color. Will grow to approximately 50’ tall by 45’ wide.
Bald Cypress- (Taxodium distichum)
A deciduous conifer with a really unique appearance. Will reach 55’ tall by 30’ wide and has a pyramidal growth habit and medium growth rate.
New Horizon Elm- (Ulmus japonica × pumila ‘New Horizon’)
One of the improved Elm Cultivars that is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease and will reach 55’ tall by 40’ wide.
Green Vase Zelkova- (Zelkova serrata ‘Green Vase’)
An upright growth habit reaching 45’ tall by 30’ wide with a medium growth rate and fine textured appearance.
For larger projects, a mixed variety of trees comprised of the above would be advised to protect against future outbreaks of disease or insects that would threaten one genus as we have recently witnessed with the Ash.
I’m sure that you will be happy with your trees in the future if you stick with this list.
Matt McCoy is a Nationally Certified Landscape Professional and the President of McCoy Landscape Services, Inc., a full service landscaping company specializing in the design and installation of Outdoor Living Spaces, Paver Patios and colorful Landscaping. McCoy Landscape serves the Central Ohio communities of Delaware, Powell, Lewis Center, Westerville, Marion, Mt. Gilead, Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus.