Should I remove and replace crabapple tree?

Asked February 6, 2016, 1:00 PM EST

In our front yard we have a crabapple tree that I believe is 30+ years old. I don't know what kind it is; it's 23' tall with light pink blossoms. It had severe apple scab in 2014 and the arborist recommended annual treatments. (It did recover very well after the first year's treatment.) Given its age and the cost of these annual treatments (and the hassle of crabapple cleanup, which was considerable in 2015), I would like to remove it and replace it with a Prairiefire crabapple. The cost to do this would be the equivalent of five years of apple scab treatments, so I think replacement is cost-effective. And we plan on living here long enough to be able to enjoy a mature tree for many years after it's fully grown. I've wanted a Prairiefire crabapple for a long time, so that's definitely swaying my decision. My one concern is the idea of cutting down a tree that *could* be maintained with annual treatments - it just seems kind of wrong. (And I think my neighbors will be disappointed!) I think I can justify its replacement; I just feel a little guilty. What would an expert say? Thanks so much for your advice!

Ramsey County Minnesota

2 Responses

There is nothing at all "wrong" about removing a disease prone plant - regardless of the fact that there are treatments for the disease. Sometimes the best way to control disease is to limit the population of vulnerable plants (and animals) in order to starve out the pathogens. Somewhat similar to the programs that remove the old-style elms and the current ash trees, isolated specimens may be able to survive an epidemic and resistant varieties will occur naturally, or be developed in order to take their places in the ecosystem.

Prairie Fire is a great tree and will soon enough grow into it's new home. I think your neighbors will be pleased!

Thanks for contacting AaE.

Thanks so much, Mary! Your answer is just what I needed to make the final decision. I hadn't thought about it that way before. I do hope you're right, especially about the ash trees - we have a beautiful ash in our backyard that I'm hoping will survive. (And we do have the ash injected with insecticide every two years - fingers crossed that will work.) Thank you!