Friends from my old neighborhood called to get some design and planting help. First, they had the hardscape they liked in the backyard, a seating area around a fountain and some raised beds in a narrow area. One of the problems was a tree that had a pest infestation that covered the tree in webs by the end of the growing season. It kind of fit into a Halloween theme, but sitting near the fountain was no longer pleasant. The owners didn’t want to use toxic pesticides for health reasons. They wanted to start over with the plantscape in general. The side yard was a steep embankment that had some old weary ivy with lots of poison ivy intertwined! They had done some planting up closer to the house, but that wasn’t doing all that well either except for the River Birch.
We took down the webworm infested Mimosa in the backyard and dug out the English Ivy and poison ivy in the side yard. We increased the organic matter in both the back and side yards. We planted species chosen by light conditions for the most part since that was our most limiting factor. We used a combination of natives to feed pollinators and non-natives for the aesthetic the owner wanted. We stretched the amount of time pollinators had a food source available, especially to cover the loss of so many Ash trees to Emerald Ash Borer. The first spring after planting some of those web worms showed up again, but we kept drenching with tea and now the tree is happy and healthy. The new tree is a White Fringe Tree, Chionanthus virginicus, which blooms at the same time.
For more information on the nexus of Ash trees, Fringe trees and Emerald Ash Borer look for the article under the Resources tab!