Starting to plan for a post-ash backyard... (Long ,wordy post...)
Emerald Ash Borer is moving ever closer in our town. Plus the ash is getting old - a neighbour's ash of similar size fell down in a windstorm a few summer ago. The ash hasn't shown any signs of leafing out yet this year, but then it's always a late starter. I'm thinking that we may just take it down this year even if it is still alive.
While the ash has been valuable for shade/cooling of the house and backyard, it has enormous potential to damage the house if it came down in an uncontrolled way. So I've started playing around with ideas of what to plant in its stead.
We've planted a few small trees over the past few years that are still pretty insignificant in size. But the young red oak is now covering a good part of the south side of the yard and is taller than the house now. The white pines at the back of the garden are a substantial presence and should be around for a while. They are still young enough to have all their lower limbs but are old enough to be significant.
The loss of the ash will turn the backyard from a shady place to a sunny place - and increase our cooling costs no doubt! At first I was thinking of replacing it with another 'generational' tree but I'm not sure if that's what will suit us best. The afternoon sun comes from behind the pines, straight at the back of the house. As the pines age and get taller, that shoud block a bit of the sun. So I was thinking maybe some smaller/shorter trees to block the sun that will come from under the pines as the pines lose their bottom branches might be better. And that would allow me to add flowering trees for their ornamental value.
I played around with the scribbled plan I made when I made the rectangular lawn. The trees/circles on the lawn would be the new trees - maybe a magnolia for spring, flanked by two heptacodiums for late summe/fall. My scanner for some reason flattened all the circles so they're odd shapes... The circles for the oak and pines are at mature size - they aren't quite that big now.
This picture was taken from the back porch two days ago. It might help you orient yourself to the drawing. (The blue-gray shed will be painted a dark olive green next month.)
Do you think the ornamental trees would work? Too many? Wrong place? If not smaller trees, what else and where?
The patio bed is going to be most badly affected by the loss of shade. Alternatives I see are to move all the plants (mostly hostas..) and replant with sun plants or plant a small tree in that bed too. If a tree, I'd have to make sure it's one that could be limbed up enough not to be an obstacle to the use of both the patio and the path past it. On the whole I lean toward the tree option as it would be more in character with the rest of the garden there than the introduction of sun-loving plants.
Any thoughts? (or did you get bored and give up reading long ago...? :-)