Before and after a street lined with Ash trees was hit by the Emerald Ash Borer
Before and after a street lined with Ash trees was hit by the Emerald Ash Borer

Prior to the Emerald Ash Borer, streets in many local communities were lined with Ash trees. Elm trees in the area and all over the country have suffered from disease. Both tree species were heavily used and planted in urban settings. When a tree disease or insect is introduced into a community the devastation can be far-reaching, especially if its’ favorite host is prevalent. This is the case when only a few tree species are used in urban and suburban landscapes. If a key tree species used in a community is affected by disease or an insect, there is very little left to compensate for its’ loss.

Tuliptree
Tuliptree

This is what makes tree diversity so important to a community and homeowners. Most landscape architects and arborists have been promoting tree diversity for many years, but it is more important now than ever to ensure we have a diverse “tree palette”. Not only does a variety of tree species increase landscape interest, it safeguards against a bare setting if one tree species is heavily affected by disease or pests. Homeowners are also able to contribute to tree diversity in their community. Choose a variety of trees suitable for our area and the specific planting locations when landscaping at your home. You’re also creating more landscape interest rather than a repetitive design.

Want help in selecting appropriate trees for the Chicago area? Click here for an online tree selection guide. In addition, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers a list of trees that have been evaluated for local urban uses and should survive climate changes. Trees for 2050, is a resource available for local communities and homeowners.

Click here for more information on tree diversity. Have a story about tree diversity? Leave a comment!

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