Our Trees

Update 2/28/2018

Hello people.

Colorado Spruce aka Blue spruce is one of the most widely planted ornamentals in the area and one of our most beautiful. Unfortunately, since the horrible drought of 2012, it seems that a fungus has taken hold in our neighborhood and is widely attacking this species of spruce. The fungus, Rhizophaera Needle Cast typically is first noted by a loss of needles on the lower branches, with the needle loss slowly moving up the tree trunk as time passes.

Emerald Tree Care, the company that is still treating some homeowner ash trees in OB, tells me that there is a spray treatment available to arrest the progression of the disease. They have told me that if people have questions regarding their spruce, that they would be glad to try to answer them. If people in OB, have spruce that are showing signs of the fungus, please feel free to contact me and I can direct you to someone at Emerald Tree Care.

From reading the literature on Rhizophaera, it appears that the treatment is difficult, particularly on large trees. However, at least there may be some hope.

With regard to our ash trees, we have stopped treating trees in our commons areas since the double treatment option now recommended is quite expensive. Of the original 80 or so ash in the commons, we are down to the last 5. A few homeowners are still successfully treating their trees, using the double treatment option and we are now down to 9 or 10 trees at last count.

The village continues to treat parkway trees, but only with the less expensive single application of insecticide. This means that eventually, likely all parkway trees will be gone. However, the program has allowed the village to remove trees at a slower pace, spreading out the costs over a number of years. Of the original 4500 parkway trees, as of October, 1231 have been approved for treatment in 2018, with another 444 still to be evaluated, and 63 definitely marked for removal.

Finally, this winter, beavers damaged a number of our oaks in the front pond area. Conservation Land Stewardship was hired to rewrap the surviving trees and the beavers were successfully removed. So, for now the threat has been contained.

Submitted by Lance Herning

Update 9/24/2016

People, it has been quite awhile since I have commented on our ash situation in Downers Grove and Orchard Brook, so here goes;

In 2008 when we first started treating our trees in the village and in OB, there were approx. 4000 trees on the village parkways and we had approximately 85 in our commons areas and around 75 homeowner trees in OB. We and the village started out optimistically with a one step soil drench treatment that looked like it was going to work, until after the 2012 season when it was pretty clear that a one step treatment process was not going to be that effective. However, a two step treatment is quite expensive by comparison (soil drench followed by trunk injection).

In OB because of the cost of the two step treatment we are still treating those trees that are left in the commons with the soil drench only. We treated 11 of our commons trees in 2016 and that number looks to go down for 2017. We have 22 total trees left in our commons area, and you have probably noticed that removal has been ongoing this summer to remove diseased trees. That process will continue until the commons areas are essentially cleared of most or all of our ash.

For homeowners we are left with only 12 trees still being treated, all by the two step process, which includes soil drench and trunk injection. This treatment is being done by several different vendors. So, far ti appears that the more extensive treatment is working as all 12 appear to still be viable, although the Emerald Ash Borer has done some damage in a few of them.

Sad to say that the village parkway trees using the single treatment, have not fared very well, as we know from observing our own parkway situation. Of the original 4000 in 2016, 2186 are still left with 2112 being treated. The village forester estimates that of these 700 will need to be removed in the next year or so. However, the treatment program has at least spaced out the removal process to allow a better situation for the village’s yearly budgets.

Submitted by Lance Herning

Update 5/27/15

People, here is the latest information on the ash situation in the area.

We are down to the last 23 trees that can be treated in Orchard Brook, sad to say. Emerald Tree Care will treat 12 commons trees and 11 homeowners. They have recently reviewed every ash tree still standing in OB and if they deem the tree to be untreatable, they will not do so, even if the homeowner asks to have the tree treated anyway. My ash tree in front falls into that category.

I believe that I have contacted all homeowners affected and for people who have paid for soil drench, with a check to OB, that money will be refunded in the near future. With one exception so far, for the 11 homeowners, all have opted to have trunk injection done in June as a follow-up to the soil drench which should be done this coming week. I do have a couple of names of tree companies that do ash treatment if anyone would like a second opinion. Please feel free to contact me if interested.

In looking at parkway trees in the area, Barneswood has taken a big hit, and a number of ash trees have red dots place on them for future removal by the village. However, Plum Ct. Golden Bell and Snowberry all have a number of trees that look like they have a fighting chance to keep going for awhile. In the nearby area, Candlewood, with all those beautiful overarching ash trees looks like it will suffer significant loss this year to EAB. That is one of the very beautiful tree lined streets in the village in my opinion, and it is very hard to see the coming destruction. LIke the Dutch elm disease of old, the same mistake of planting a monoculture on one street is coming home to roost.

One kind of amazing exception to the general parkway tree problems is Wood, where most of the trees are ash, but where at least 80% look healthy so far. It is just so hard to figure which trees are going to survive and why.

Sorry for the sad news. It has been a long, hard and essentially losing struggle to save our ash, the campaign to do so, starting in 2008.

Lance Herning

Update 2/9/15 – Emerald Ash Borer Treatments 2015 and other tree issues

Folks, it is time to think again about ash tree treatment in Orchard Brook, albeit for a sadly diminished number. For those of you who wish to treat your trees again this year, the cost will be the same as last year and is based on the diameter of the tree. If you cannot recall the amount, please contact Lance Herning at redhern@sbcglobal.net. If you have any question about the viability of your tree or trees and whether it makes sense to treat again, please give me a call and we can have a look and make a judgement. I would guess based on a walk I did last fall, that about 50% of our trees still have a chance, particularly with the more robust treatment offered by Emerald Tree Care.

For those of you who have Austrian pines on your property, I will contact you to go over the treatment possibilities. Most Austrian pines are on commons property and were treated last September.

A few residents, including me, treated their sugar maples to try to prevent verticillium wilt, which has ravaged a number of this species in OB. If you have a sugar maple and want to consider treatment give me a call.

As for our American and European lindens in the neighborhood, these have been hit really hard in the last 2 years with verticillium wilt which is invariably fatal for these two species. I am not sure there is much that can be done to protect these beautiful trees, but I intend to research the subject in the next month or so, to see what is possible.

For those who wish to participate again this year, please make out a check to Orchard Brook Homeowners Assn. with ash treatment in the memo line and if your address is not already on the check, please add to the memo line. Checks can be mailed to the Orchard Brook address at Clubhouse, 1089 35th St.
Deadline for sign-up will be March 15.

Is it reasonable to try to treat ash trees? That is a very reasonable question for which their is no easy answer. I have an ash that has been treated since 2008 and it is 100% healthy, but in the commons area behind my house, there are two ash trees that also have been treated since 2008 and they both are barely hanging on. The village of Lombard in 2008 chose not to treat trees in the village and in 3 years, most were dead or dying. Downers Grove started treating in 2008 and some blocks have over 75 % healthy trees. Will they in 5 years? That is a darned good question. Perhaps we will only be left with a few remnant “museum” trees that for some reason had the good fortune to stand up against the beetle with the help of insecticide treatment and a favorable location.

Or thinking more positively, hopefully we will retain at least half our ash trees in Downers Grove, truly one of the great tree species in North America.

Lance Herning

Orchard Brook EAB Efforts – Historical Information

12/13/14 – Lacey Creek Update

Village engineers have met recently with the pre-qualified contractors for the Lacey Creek stream bank stabilization program. Proposals are due in January and money has already been budgeted for work to begin in 2015 on the areas just east of Venard and Saratoga where the timbers are in a very bad state of repair. In 2016 the plan is to replace the timbers from Venard west to the back wetland area. Residents may soon see engineers from the bidding contractors poking around the creek basin, scoping things out. So, at long last this long stalled project may be on its way.

More information will be forthcoming once the contractor is selected.

(Update provided by Lance Herning)


“The Axeman Cometh”

Unfortunately, as many of us have seen, ash trees are starting to come down throughout Downers Grove, and of course in Orchard Brook, despite many having been treated since 2008. I remember the enthusiasm we had in 2008 when we organized block committees to educate homeowners with ash trees on treatment possibilities to try to save these trees. We started treatment in the fall of 2008, and while trees were coming down in Lombard and other suburbs early on because of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), our trees looked good going into the 2012 growing season. Then we had the devastating drought of 2012, (one of the worst since records started in the Chicago area). Subsequently, our first tree in OB at a residence on Barneswood went down because of the borer, although in this case that tree had never been treated. Still, while whole neighborhoods in surrounding suburbs with large populations of ash were being devastated by EAB, we still felt were in good shape in OB. However, by the end of 2013, it was becoming clear that this beetle was much tougher than realized to stop and in conjunction with the effects of the drought, many of our OB trees were showing severe damage from the beetles infestation. Our second homeowner tree in OB came down in 2013 and in the winter of 2013-14 we took down 12 dying ash in our commons areas.

This spring we changed to a different company for tree treatment (same as that used by the village) and using a more robust treatment regimen, hoped to stem the die-off. The village was claiming 95% effectiveness on treated parkway trees, using this treatment prior to 2014. Now, we are seeing this summer that many parkway trees are dying, throughout the village and obviously the % of trees to survive is going to go down dramatically.

I know that the village has tried different treatment strategies on various sections in town, and I have not been privy to which treatments were used on which streets. According to Kerstyn Vanderheide, the village forester, they are still trying to figure out what works best and are working with the Morton Arboretum to see if they can come up with the best treatment strategy. It is interesting to see that some OB parkways are doing reasonably well; Snowberry and Plum Court come to mind, and to a great extent, ash on Golden Bell. However, Barneswood and Brookside have been hit very hard by the EAB as has Candlewood in a nearby neighborhood. Wood St. just to the south of OB, which is 100% ash in the parkways looks very healthy, on the other hand.

In our commons areas, some have been hit almost 100% and some are showing no effects of the EAB at all. Some homeowners have totally healthy trees and others are taking their trees down. Perhaps some are doing better from some combination of soil PH and or soil moisture in addition to 7 years of treatment of some kind or another. It is indeed somewhat mysterious.

Thus far in 2014, we have lost 10 more homeowner trees, plus several more are on the removal list, and we are scheduled to bring down 11 commons trees in the coming months. At the end of the summer, I will put out another update, and we will see if our April treatment plus a wetter than normal year to date has been able to finally stem the tide of destruction, or if inexorably, the beetle is going to eventually take out most of our ash trees. My feeling is that is not going to be the case, but so far the signs have not been encouraging.

This nasty ash business plus loss of a number of maples and linden trees to verticillium wilt in OB in 2014 has made for a sad year for so many of us.

Lance Herning


People, we have a new vendor this year to treat our ash trees, (Emerald Tree Care), those that are still viable for treatment in the vendor’s opinion.

The treatment plan for this year is to be much more robust than past years after 6 years of learning the appropriate levels of the insecticide, imidicloprid in combination with fertilizer, micronutrients and organic bio-stimulants to save ash trees. Unfortunately, as too many of us already know, in finding the proper treatment mix, we may be too late for many of our commons and homeowner trees.

Because the treatment is now more robust, the cost has gone up considerably over last year’s flat rate of $11 per tree regardless of diameter. The cost this year will be $2.5 per inch of tree diameter. We realize that for some with large diameter trees or trees with multiple trunks this cost increase will be a jolt. The alternative is even less attractive though, as tree removal could run well over $1000 per tree and may be as high as $2000 for very large trees. There will be some tough decisions to be made by homeowners in Orchard Brook, I am afraid. In the commons areas, we have identified 53-54 trees that we will treat this year. Twenty eight more will be removed over a 3 year period and some of you have likely seen our tree removal service already starting in some areas to remove diseased ash.

As far as homeowners are concerned, last fall, the vendor owner, (Wayne White) and I looked at all the ash trees in our subdivision and measured their diameters, if we thought the tree was worth saving. Each homeowner that wishes to participate this year, (treatment will be done in April), will need to contact me to find out the cost for your particular tree or trees. You may find out that we decided your tree might not be worth saving and did not measure the tree. However, a homeowner still might wish to “roll the dice” and see if a diseased tree can be salvaged, by treating. In that case, I will measure the tree and add it to our list. It could be that the treatment will keep the tree alive even though extensive pruning might be required to remove dead areas. Wayne told me that in other subdivisions he has treated, some homeowners decided to treat even though only a couple of branches survived, just to keep from paying the huge removal cost. It will be something to think about anyway.

Once, a homeowner has learned the treatment cost and decided to participate in the treatment program, a check will need to made out to Orchard Brook Homeowners Assn. and sent to the clubhouse address, at 1089 35th St. with EAB treatment and address of the home shown on the memo line. For those homeowners not on our e-mail list, I will call to make sure that we don’t miss anyone. Deadline for sign-up will be March 15.

The treatment process must be done each year, at least for an extended period of time. We are hopeful that after 5 years, or so, the ash borers will die out, because of lack of trees to attack. Therefore, it is possible that we can stop treatment after that time period because all untreated ash will be dead and there will no longer be a ‘reservoir” of trees to promote breeding and egg laying in the area.

For people who want to comparison shop around, they can check out our old vendor, Spring Green and or Davey Tree Co. Spring Green quoted us a flat fee of $44 per tree regardless of diameter of tree, but that was to do the entire subdivision. My guess is that an individual homeowner would find the treatment cost to be much higher. Davey Tree charges $10 per inch, I understand, but their treatment only has to be done every other year. They inject directly into the trunk of the tree which might have long term adverse consequences. Emerald Tree Care uses a soil drench treatment only.

Please contact me for treatment cost info. and for any other questions you might have.
Lance Herning
(630) 963-7395

Latest EAB Updates as of June 2013:

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation is fully upon us now here in Downers Grove, as witness the dying trees in the south part of Downers Grove and the problems seen in Lyman Woods.

To give some background history, we started a treatment campaign in OB in 2008, which included our parkway ash trees. We hired Spring Green to carry out the treatment program and using an insecticide by the trade name of Merit, (imidacloprid), we got started in September of 2008. Many homeowners participated in the initial treatment program and all commons area ashes were treated, as were all of our 130 parkway trees.

The village of Downers Grove also began to treat parkway trees that year and in 2009, because OB had been proactive in treatment, included our parkway trees in their program, which saved OB a significant amount of money.

In 2008 and 2009, the village also used Spring Green, with one difference being that the village chose in 2009 to start treating in April as opposed to the September time frame, “traditionally” used for imidacloprid. The Morton Arboretum show both time frames as effective in their EAB brochures. In 2010 and beyond, we continued to treat our trees in September and the village continued to treat in April, and although the village changed vendors, the same imidacloprid chemical formulation was used. The village also decided to only treat 2400 ash trees in the parkways, choosing not to treat around 1100 more, but continued to take care of OB parkway trees.

What I have noticed here in OB is that the parkway trees seem to be almost 100% free of EAB infestation, as far as I can tell, (it can take up to four years for an infested tree to show symptoms before the larvae inside the tree seriously affect the tree’s vascular system’s ability to keep the tree healthy). However, I see that some of our homeowner trees and commons area trees are showing some signs of stress, perhaps aggravated by last year’s serious drought. These include trees that have been treated for all five years to date. So, it appears
that the earlier treatment time may be working better.

 In talking to Spring Green, they are now recommending a new chemical formulation that they say is more effective than what they have been using before. They are recommending using a treatment with a trade name of Safari, (dinotefuran).

In researching, dinotefuran, I see that this chemical moves 3 times faster into the tree’s vascular system than imidacloprid and can even used to rescue distressed trees if at least 20% of the tree canopy is still left. The village still used imidacloprid for this spring’s program. Based on Spring Green’s recommendation, we should plan to switch to Safari.

 Safari should be used before July 15 to be truly effective. So, unlike past treatment campaigns, we need to get interested people signed up by July 1. The cost will be the same as last year, $11 per tree. People who wish to enroll in the program again, please make out a check to Orchard Brook, with a note in the memo line stating “EAB treatment”. Please send payments to Clubhouse, 1089, 35th St. Downers Grove IL 60515. Please make sure the address where the trees to be treated is indicated somewhere with your payment. Checks should be made out to Orchard Brook Home Association.

For those who think their ash trees might be beyond saving, please call me and I will come over and have a look. Also feel free to contact me with any other questions you might have. I recently, took a trip through Lombard and it is shocking to see all the dead and dying ash trees throughout that village, particularly on Main St. It is obvious that the treatment we have been using while perhaps not 100% effective, is in the main, working and looking at a street like

Golden Bell Court, working very well thus far.

 Lance Herning

Ash Tree Update From Lance Herning as of Sept 2012

On Wed. Sept. 19, I accompanied a crew from Spring Green and we treated 77 ash trees in the commons areas and did 60 on homeowners property which tied our old record of 60 in 2008, and was a nice bounce-back from the 39 treated in 2010. There are a total of 74 on homeowner property so this was a decent showing. Out of the 137 trees, I found 3 likely casualties for EAB infestation and 2 probable. Of the 3 likely, one had never been treated, one had missed one year, and one had been treated for all 4 years. Of the two probable, they had been also treated all 4 years, so it is obvious that our treatment program is not a 100% sure thing, but hopefully it will be effective in the long run for most of our tree population.

Of the over 130 trees in the parkways, I did not see any obvious problems. In talking to the village forester, they treat the parkway trees somewhat earlier than we do, using the basically the same chemical formulation as does Spring Green. It is their feeling that doing the treatment earlier when the trees are fully transpiring is more effective for uptake of the chemicals into the tree’s vascular system. Next year we will look at starting a bit earlier as well, perhaps by as much as two weeks.

 The village forester, said that of the original 4000 parkway ash trees, 500 have been taken out already, and of the 3500 left they are treating 2300, including ours. The 1200 untreated will likely fall victim to the ash borer in the next several years. The forester says of the trees they are treating they are getting essentially 100% protection thus far. I noticed that the EAB is now in Lyman Woods, so that is going to be a sad situation over there soon.

 In making the rounds, I saw some evidence of verticillium wilt striking linden trees, and sugar maples. That disease is essentially 100% fatal and the drought conditions make the trees much more susceptible to the disease. Dutch elm disease is also rearing it’s ugly head again on some mature elms, (American elms only so far, skipping slippery and Siberian elms, although these species can in unusual circumstance fall prey to the disease, so I am told). In addition, it appears that our box elder population in OB is going to take a major hit from the drought, and I expect to see a big die-off in the next couple of years.

 Speaking of box elders, you all may have seen an outbreak of box elder bugs this year after our mild winter. On one tree, I looked at there are thousands crawling around. The beetles are dark colored with some red stripes and the nymphs are bright red. These insects like female trees only because they feed on the seeds, and therefore they do not harm the tree itself. However, they like to overwinter in houses, so you will have to keep an eye out for them and like the Asian lady bug beetles be prepared to vacuum them up if you find them inside.

Finally, in this litany of woes, for those of you who have Scots pine and or Austrian pines on your property, they likely are in for a bad time in the next couple of years, due to a fungus like disease. If you have such and want an opinion, please give me a call and I can come over and have a look.


Emerald Ash Borer Still A Threat

Just because we haven’t heard anything on the nightly news recently we shouldn’t think the problem has gone away. The emerald ash borer is still a concern, and prevention is still way less expensive and more environmentally friendly the the cure (cutting down the ash trees).

A number of Chicago area municipalities have been in the news because of the discovery of the long expected and dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) which has been responsible for the deaths of millions of ash trees in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Accidentally introduced into the Detroit area in 2002 possibly from a boat from China, the EAB has spread rapidly into Canada and the Midwestern areas surrounding the Detroit area. Some of the municipalities in Chicagoland where it already has been found include Chicago, Hazel Crest, St. Charles, Batavia, Burr Ridge, Glendale Hts., Huntley, LaGrange, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Park, Evanston, River Forest, Sugar Grove, Wilmette and Carol Stream.

While this insect is expected to cause tremendous devastation in our forest preserves and many communities, there are steps that can be taken to protect some of our ash trees. Spring Green Lawn Service (among others) has a root injection system that has apparently been very effective in Michigan in warding off the EAB from entering the inner bark of ash trees. Last fall (2008) we (Orchard Brook) treated all our parkway and common area ash trees, and most homeowners with ash trees had their trees treated as well.

For 2010, the Village of Downers Grove has already treated the parkway trees in the Orchard Brook area.

The OBHA board contracted with Spring Green to treat the common area trees and will again coordinate the treatment of trees on residential property. Spring Green will treat homeowner trees at a cost of $10 per tree per injection regardless of tree diameter, as long as the treatment was done at the same time as the common area trees. The injections must be done in the early fall and then repeated each year for the rest of the life of the tree, (one injection per year).

The board based their decision on aesthetics and economics. The loss of around 100 (220 if we count the parkway trees DG has already treated) mature trees would certainly detract from the beauty of our surroundings, and possibly have a negative impact on property values.

The cost or removing diseased trees is also overwhelming. There are about 80 ash trees on Orchard Brook common property. If we are required to remove these trees, the cost would be approximately $64,000 (80 trees x $800 each). A cost that would be passed along to the homeowners. In comparison, the $1,000 per year that OB might spend on prevention seems like a good investment.

 Homeowner Participation

The board again invited interested homeowners who wish to protect trees on their property to join in the 2009 treatment program at homeowner cost of $10 per tree.In 2008 more than 60 privately owned trees were treated under the program. In 2009, participation fell somewhat – to around 45 homeowners.

We would love to have everybody back on board for 2010!

Homeowners are not required to participate, and you can always choose to have Spring Green or another company perform the service, but it will probably be more expensive to contract individually.

 What Will The Village Do?

That was a big question in 2008, but the concern at the village government level and our proactive 2008 campaign lead to the treatment of the trees on village property in the spring of 2009 and again in the spring of 2010. We hope they will continue to treat the parkway trees annually.

 Do you have an ash tree on your property?

During the 2008 effort, we located most, if not all, of the ash trees on private property. Most Orchard Brook homeowners, as a result of the 2008 effort, already know if they have an ash (or not) on their property.

For your reference:

1. Ash trees have leaves with opposite twigs, (that is rare in the tree world in northern Illinois, as only maples, dogwoods, buckeyes and horse chestnuts other than ash have opposite twigs).

2. Ash leaves have 5-7 lanceolate, (oval and pointed) leaflets for each leaf (compound leaves).

If these two criteria are met, and the homeowner still has any doubts about the identity of a tree, give Lance Herning a call and he can the confirm the species. Also, see the link below:


 People wishing to get more information on this exotic pest can type in “Emerald Ash Borer” into the Internet search engine of your choice and get a wealth of websites on the subject.

We would like to thank our resident Naturalist, Lance Herning, for making us all aware of the problem, researching potential solutions, and all the time and effort he has put into addressing this issue.