Over the past two years Tim’s tree saving program has doubled, and this year for forecast even more trees saved.  Why?  Because the solution to the Emerald Ash Borer’s destruction works.

It’s a two phase program.  The first is to kill the Emerald Ash Borer with TREE-äge, a solution injected directly into the tree.  It stays for a period of two years,  and not in the ground, so it is safe for pets and humans.  The second is the focus on overall tree health through Vertical Mulching and Fertilizing the soil, to break up the hard clay soil in our area and  stimulate tree root development.

In order to support the high demand for Vertical Mulching and Fertilizing, we ordered in a truckload of the special ingredients we use for Vertical Mulching and Fertilizing.  We don’t want to run out here at the most critical part of the season.  The picture below shows our team members unloading.

Turface delivered


The International Dendrology Society recently published a fascinating article on amazing tree recovery after vertical mulching and fertilizing using the pneumatic method.

This tree would have otherwise died without the intervention of a pneumatic tool to break up, or decompact, the soil, along with vertical mulching and fertilizing.

“The results are convincing us that this is the way forward with many trees that appeared to be in a mortality spiral and well beyond making enormous progress and showing signs of improved growth and vigor.  A 150 year old deodar cedar cedrus deodara behind the Rose Garden infected with honey fungus and holding less than 10% of foliage was one of the first trees decompacted in 1998.  Today this tree still survives with a crown density of approximately 60% and increasing every year.  There is no doubt that this tree would almost certainly have died within two or three years had we not intervened.”

Note that the pneumatic method that they use in the U.K. at Kew, is very similar to what we use at Back Tree Service.  The difference is that the filler and fertilizer are matched to local soil conditions.

Located in the United Kingdom near London, Kew Gardens is one of the most prestigious gardens in the world.  It’s official name is The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and it was created in 1759.  The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is responsible for the world’s largest collection of living plants. The organisation employs more than 650 scientists and other staff. The living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants.  Source Wikipedia.

You can read the full article by clicking on the following link.

The decompaction programme on trees at Kew

Tree owners recognize the need to preserve their valuable assets by vertical mulching and fertilizing, and injecting for destructive insects, such as Emerald Ash Borer.  But an even more fundamental step is to ensure that trees are properly watered during drought periods.

What follows is a guideline for watering trees.


May, or temperatures 70 to 79 ºF, water every 6th day

June, or temperatures 80 to 85 ºF, water every 5th day

July and August, or temperatures 86 to 96 ºF, water every 4th day

September, or temperatures 80 to 85 ºF,  water every 5th day

Trees should receive approximately two to three inches of water each time.  This can be measured by simply placing a pan by the tree and then measuring the amount of water that is accumlated in it.

Note:  Do not water every day.  Less frequent long soakings (saturation), followed by skipped periods allow for oxygen availability.

To know you have watered deep enough for a tree, you must be able to probe in the soil at least 6-8” using a shovel.  But I recommend a Ross root feeder.

Can you believe it ? Three droughts in four years.

The 2007 drought was the worst in over 30 years, only to be followed by another drought in 2008. Then, that same year, hurricane Ike hit our trees like a thousand pound sledge hammer.  And following that,  the 2010 drought severely damaged our surviving trees.

Trees need more water than grass. A good lawn does not mean the tree’s root system is getting enough water to preserve the tree’s health, ensuring survival. Conventional watering methods to save trees result in water bills that are unbelievably high.

Solution: Make Your Trees Healthy and Happy.

To make trees healthy enough to fight against the drought requires aggressive action. Our heavy clay soil is like concrete, and demands soil remediation.

1. We pneumatically install 2 inch holes, ten to twelve inches deep, every three to four feet on center, all under the canopy of the tree. These safely aerate the roots.

2. We then backfill the holes with a special aggregate mixed with a slow release fertilizer, offering nutrients to the tree for the following 18 months.

3. These miniature water wells ensure that when you water, it goes to the roots immediately.


1. Direct water straight to the roots to preserve tree health and save your trees.

2. Reduces the amount of needed, and saves money.

3. Time release fertilizer stimulates new root growth and promotes tree health.

As most of you know I am quite passionate about saving ash trees.  There have been so many gloom and doom articles about the emerald ash borer in Cincinnati that I decided to write to the Enquirer.  And the Cincinnati Enquirer decided to publish it.  Here is the article and please read it.  Any comments are welcome.

Your ash trees are not doomed to die

June 9, 2010

It is commonly known that the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) kills ash trees. There is a misconception that there’s no completely effective treatment and eventually the tree must be taken down. This is completely false!

In a recent article, “Emerald Ash Borer Population Growing,” Paul Drury, assistant administrator of Anderson Township, did a great job of describing the problem. However, he concluded his article with a defeatist attitude that revealed a lack of knowledge. Just like Mariemont, and many other municipalities, individuals are not up with current research or are mislead.

Many draw their conclusions from a June 2007 paper, The Potential Economic Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) on Ohio, U.S., Communities by Sydnor, Bumgardner and Todd, that was constructed improperly focusing only on removing ash trees. In this paper, the word “save” does not appear one time. The focus is on rip and replace and not saving valuable trees. Today, the authors are rewriting the paper.

In 2009, after another two-year study, the solution to the EAB was revealed and published in Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer. In that report scientists from these universities, Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois, identified the most effective treatment.

“A new product that is effective for two years or even longer (emamectin benzoate) has altered the economics of treating ash trees… emamectin benzoate is the only product tested to date that controls EAB for more than one year with a single application.”

In a study since 2006, Daniel Herms, PhD, Department of Entomology, the Ohio State University, stated “A single trunk injection of emamectin benzoate (TREE-äge) provided up to three years control,” Multiyear Evaluations of Systemic Insecticides for Control of Emerald Ash Borer. In another paper Herms stated, “The emamectin benzoate trees had less than one larva per square meter or greater than 99 percent control.”

Some argue that removal and replacement is more cost effective than treatment. However, this too is a misconception based on old data. Removing a 12.4-inch tree will lose a landscape value of $2,240, cost an additional $675 for tree and stump removal, and $290 for a replacement 2.4-inch tree.

In contrast, that same 12.4-inch tree could be treated with TREE-äge for only $149, a three-year protection, and less than half that price for municipal parks and streets.

So there you have it. Your trees can be saved by this treatment, proven effective by multiple university studies. I’ve personally saved more than 3,000 trees, and it should be 30,000. The treatment is there, decision makers just need to wake up and use it.

I encourage you to go to your park boards and city councils to ask your leaders why – why aren’t you treating the ash trees with this innovative treatment? It’s time to fight to save the beautiful ash trees.

Tim Back, an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist since 1997 and owner of Back Tree Service, 742-8733, has saved ash trees for years. Visit his blog on saving ash trees in Cincinnati, www.emeraldashborer.wordpress.com.

Here is a huge, 55.25 inch in diameter, Shumard Oak that we treated today.  As you can see, it is pretty big.

The customer desires to maintain a strong, healthy, and stable oak tree.  We used Cambistat from Rainbow Treecare  Scientific Advancements to focus the tree’s energy on stronger root and leaf development through even distribution  in the tree.

As can be seen in the pictures, I was assisted by Stephan Carbonara of Rainbow Treecare  Scientific Advancements.  Stephan is a technical field representative.

Stephen measuring the huge Shumard Oak

55.25 inches in diameter!

This, is a BIG tree

After measuring, the next step is to dig a trench around the tree.

Trench around tree

Next, the Cambistat formulation is mixed.

Here we see Stephen on the left, and Darrell on the right.

The Cambistat formulation is now applied into the trench that we dug.  The process is called soil drenching.

Applying Cambistat formulation

The process did not take long, and is a procedure used in plant health care to strengthen the tree, increase health and focus the tree’s development in the roots and leaves.

Treecare  Scientific Advancements

After three years of planning, Cincinnati arborist, Tim Back, has transitioned Back Tree Service from an historical focus of tree removal to saving trees.  The auction of tree removal equipment yesterday exceeded expectations, and positioned Back Tree Service to focus on treating and saving trees rather than removing them.  And that’s what being an arborist is all about.

Jeff McKinney, a business reporter with the Cincinnati Enquirer, wrote a great article on Tim  changing the Back Tree Service business model in order to focus on treating ash trees in the Greater Cincinnati tree service area in order to protect them from the ravages of Emerald Ash Borer.

You can read the entire article by clicking on the image below.

This article covers the auction and the reasons behind it.  One key point from the article is that doing nothing about treating the Emerald Ash Borer in Cincinnati will result in  a loss of up to 25% of the trees in Cincinnati within 2-5 years.  Don’t let anyone, arborist or other, talk you out of taking action.