This year we’re finally getting some rain!  But our trees have suffered through four droughts in six years, plus other extremes. Too wet too long, and too dry too long. Our heavy clay soil has been like concrete, causing great stress to our trees. If trees were dropping leaves prematurely last season, it’s a sign they are stressed.

Make Your Trees Happy and Healthy…
To regain the health of trees stressed by drought, insects, and disease, aggressive action is required.

VMF1.  We pneumatically install two inch holes, ten to twelve inches deep, every three to four feet under the canopy of the tree.  These safely decompact and aerate the soil, stimulating the tree’s roots.

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


  • Decompacts and aerates heavy clay soil
  • Directs water straight to the roots to preserve tree health and save your trees
  • Reduces the amount of water needed, and saves money
  • Time release fertilizer stimulates new root growth and promotes tree health.

We are following the lead of scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, adapting their methodology to local conditions. To read about their dramatic tree recovery results, go to Dramatic tree recovery methodology from Kew Gardens.

Vertical Mulching and Fertilizing is recommended every two years, especially after our last six years of extreme weather.

Act now to save your trees from effect of extreme weather, insects and disease.  Call me at 513-742-8733.



In 2007 Back Tree service discovered the right system of treatment for the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer, known as TREE-äge.  Unlike other systems, it lasts for two years, is safe for pets and humans right from the time of treatment.  Unlike many treatments that are put into the soil, it is put directly into the tree, and so it has no impact on the environment around the trees.

Back Tree Service now has over 10,000 ash trees under management, and this season will add thousands more.  it’s quite a departure from the tree removal business that we started in.

Tim Back is proud to have saved over 10,000 Ash trees from Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Our technicians who inject the ash trees, all say they feel a sense of pride and fulfillment at the end of each day.  Having saved ash trees from certain destruction from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).  At the end of April, we will start another season of saving thousands of ash trees.


The following map shoes where customers have already engaged Back Tree Service to inject their ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) this season, from all over the Greater Cincinnati tree service area.


Injection Map

The best time to start is here, just before the EAB eggs hatch.  As can be seen from the map, chances are Back Tree Service will be in your area soon.  We can have one of our teams protect your ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) for the next two years while they are in your area.

It’s cost effective, and as easy as calling 513-742-TREE.  And, we guarantee our treatment will save your ash trees.

Here is a great video of the lifecycle of the Emerald Ash Borer that was made by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  What they say in this video applies equally to Cincinnati, or Kentucky, or anywhere threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer.

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

This is a question that our salespeople and technicians get asked quite often.

The quick answer is YES.  As can be read in other posts such as Our process to protect valuable ash trees, the method that we use keeps the formulation within the system of the tree.  The formulation is injected into the tree trunk via small plugs, which act as one-way valves, and it stays in the tree.

Other systems such as soil drenching, put pesticides into the environment.  In a letter to the USDA, concerned citizens in Pesticide Action Network North America, Toxics Action Network, and The SafeLawns Foundation, stated the  following with respect to soil drenching.

“…we believe direct soil applications of imidacloprid presents the vast potential for too many unintended consequences. Among imidacloprid’s known deleterious impacts are known to be:
a) Toxicity to birds, fish, crustaceans, earthworms and most especially honeybees, which are essential for the pollination of vast amounts of the world’s food;
b) Potential for migration into water. Imidacloprid can persist in soil for 26.5 to 229 days in soil and has been detected in both ground and surface water in New York. California put imidacloprid on its groundwater protection list due to its potential to contaminate groundwater;
c) Potential impacts to humans. Imidacloprid has been linked in animal studies to reproductive, mutagenic and neurotoxic effects.
d) Several nations, including France and Germany, have banned soil-based applications of imidacloprid due to its aforementioned toxicity issues.”

Although the article is specifically about the Asian Longhorned Beetle, the same process and pesticide is used by some companies for Emerald Ash Borer.  Therefore it is important to ask any company that may treat your ash trees what is the method they use, and what chemical they use.

It is also noteworthy that TREE-age (ememectin benzoate) is more effective over a longer period of time than imidacloprid.  See past post Insecticide Options for Treating Emerald Ash Borer

The complete letter, and associated article, can be read on the following link…

Government Considers Soil Drenching of Pesticides in Boston

The treatment of ash trees for Emerald Ash Borer varies according to product and method.

The previous post, Best time to treat ash trees for Emerald Ash Borer, describes the differences in treatment methods for Imidacloprid and Tree-äge.  These are soil drenching (Imidacloprid) and trunk injection (Tree- äge).

For Tree-äge, the treatment frequency is every two years in Cincinnati, because most of Greater Cincinnati is considered a “hot zone.”

Studies on population biology by scientists such as Dr. David Smitley of Michigan State University, indicate that within five years of the trees dying in an area due to Emerald Ash Borer, the population of the insect crashes because they now have no food to sustain reproductive capacity. The population falls, the infestation moves on, but the protected ash trees survive! At that point intervals between treatments can be increased, further reducing the overall cost of treatment.

As mentioned, the success of treatment for Emerald Ash Borer is enhanced by Pneumatic Vertical Mulching.  See post “Why We Recommend Pneumatic Vertical Mulching and Fertilizing” for further detail.

Over the past few weeks many people in Cincinnati have asked when the best time is to treat their ash trees for the Emerald Ash Borer.  Several mentioned that they had heard that April was best, and some said a friend told them that is was too late in the season to treat ash trees for Emerald Ash Borer.

In order to answer this question we need to be aware of two variables; the life cycle of the Emerald Ash Borer, and the type of treatment used.

The adult beetle emerges starting early May, leaving its distinctive “D” shaped exit hole 1/8th inch in diameter.  Adult beetles continue to emerge through June. Eggs are laid starting mid May and continue through  to August.  These eggs take seven to ten days to hatch.  The larvae then tunnels under the bark and starts feeding.  This is the highly destructive phase of the cycle and lasts through October.  The larvae pupates over winter and in early spring the adults start to emerge.

There are several treatment types.  Two of the most common are soil drenching and injection.

Soil drenching: A channel is dug around the tree and filled with imidacloprid formulation.  This takes four to eight weeks to be absorbed into the root system and take effect.  That’s why some say April treatment is best, because the soil drenched tree will be ready for the emergence of the adults in May, and continue to kill the larvae through the fall. Because of the delay in soil drenching taking effect, treating later in the year is less effective. Also, this method need to be repeated every year.

Read about the unintended consequences of soil drenching.

Injection:  The solution that Back Tree Service uses is tree injection with TREE-age.  This has the advantages of taking effect within only 72 hours and remains effective for two years.   Therefore injecting late in the cycle is just as effective as in the beginning of the cycle.

Therefore, the answer to the question on the best time to treat for Emerald Ash Borer is Spring though Fall with TREE-age when the leaves are on the trees.  Let’s face it, if the trees are getting consumed right now, why put off treating it until next year?  Once the ash borer infests an ash tree, it takes only two to three years to kill that tree.  So the earlier they are treated, the less damage to the tree.

When treating ash trees in the Cincinnati and Dayton area, a question that we are commonly asked is “What is your process to protect ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer?”

This is a good question and has many people curious to learn the answer.


As you may already be aware, we inject the ash tree with a special solution of Emamectin Benzoate, called TREE-äge.  But how exactly is that done?

Well, we use small plugs that are placed in the trunk around the tree, and approximately six inches apart.  To do this, we drill the holes into the trunk two inches deep and close to the base, maybe a foot or two from the ground.  The plugs are then tapped into the holes, and set.  These plugs are then injected with the TREE- äge formulation.

Arbor Plugs

Plug Placement








In order to determine how many plugs to install, and how much TREE-äge to inject, the first step is to measure the diameter of the tree at 4.5 feet above the ground.  This is called Diameter at Breast Height, or DBH.  Some people are fascinated that we use a special tape measure that has the linear measurement already divided by Pi to give the diameter.

Once we have the DBH, a chart is consulted that shows how many plugs, called sites, are to be put in the tree, and how much TREE-äge per site.  As one might expect, the larger the tree’s diameter, the more sites (plugs) it needs and the more TREE-äge it needs per site.

For example, a six inch ash tree would have three sites at six milliliters of TREE-äge each, an 18 inch ash tree nine sites at nine milliliters, and a 32 inch diameter ash tree would take 17 sites at 15 milliliters per site.

The key is to get the right amount of TREE-äge into the tree.  And, under ideal conditions, the formulation will be up in the twigs in 72 hours.

The Emerald Ash Borer larvae feed on the inner bark of the ash tree.  Any larvae are exterminated by the TREE-äge formulation on contact.

This ash tree treatment has been proven effective for two years, and so we contact our clients every two years in order to renew the protection of their trees.

The following guide was put together by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in Canada.

As the title indicates, it provides a simple, straightforward explanation of how to detect ash trees with the Emerald Ash Borer.

As you drive around the Greater Cincinnati area, you can see ash trees in that clearly show signs of stress, especially in places like Anderson Township and Morrow.  This guide will be of assistance in detecting if your tree might be infected with EAB.

A Visual Guide to Detecting Emerald Ash Borer Damage