The Emerald Ash Borer: How It’s Affecting Lakewood’s Tree Canopy

If you’ve visited Lakewood recently, you probably noticed crews at work removing tree remnants from our grounds.

This past winter, the Minneapolis Park Board marked hundreds of our ash trees for removal due to an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer (EAB).

We appreciate your patience as we work to clear the grounds of tree debris throughout the spring. It’s a big job! Read on to learn more about what's been happening.

What is the Emerald Ash Borer?

In the last two decades, ash trees all over the Eastern and Midwestern United States have become infested with EAB, which is deadly to ash trees. The beetle’s larvae live in the bark of the trees, where they create tunnels. These tunnels disrupt the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree, which causes the tree to die.

EAB came to the US nearly two decades ago on shipping containers from China. In China, the beetle isn’t typically deadly, but the US’s ash trees haven’t evolved to handle the beetle’s harmful burrowing. The beetle was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009, and it has spread quickly in recent years. Learn more about EAB from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Minneapolis’ Proactive Approach To help manage the devastating effects of EAB and ensure the safety of citizens, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has mandated the proactive removal of thousands of ash trees on public and private property throughout Minneapolis. Hundreds of ash trees here at Lakewood are among the trees that must be removed. Learn more about the Park Board’s approach to EAB.

More than one in five trees in the city of Minneapolis are ash trees. Lakewood, which has roughly 3,000 total trees, has a similar concentration of ash trees. In 2018-2019, we removed about 120 EAB-infested ash trees marked by the Park Board, and we are currently removing an additional 279 this winter. We will likely be removing more in 2021.

Strengthening The Biodiversity of Our Urban Forest As with any forest, the trees at Lakewood are in a constant state of change. Storm damage, fires, disease and pests are all part of the natural cycle and rhythm of an urban forest.

While we are very sad to lose these trees, we are also optimistic about the opportunity to plant new and more diverse tree species at Lakewood. As our climate changes and new tree diseases emerge or migrate here, our trees will continue to face new threats. Planting a biodiverse woodland is key to both a beautiful setting and a resilient landscape.

Replanting New Trees

We're working on a plan to replant a beautiful variety of new trees. Several factors affect how many trees we can replace, how quickly we can replace them, and where we can plant the new trees, including:

  • The size of the removed tree

  • The complexity of the old and new trees’ root systems

  • The layout of our underground water systems

  • The proximity of the trees to grave sites

This planning — and planting — will take place over several years. We hope to start as soon as this summer.

Funding the Replacement

Lakewood has about 700 ash trees, and most, if not all, will need to be removed. As a nonprofit, Lakewood invest proceeds in a perpetual care fund to support the long-term maintenance of Lakewood's grounds and buildings. However, because this is a large expense outside of regular maintenance, we are applying for grants and working on opportunities for families and the community to help sponsor new tree plantings.

We are considering options such as a tree adoption or sponsorship program which will allow families to memorialize loved ones while helping us fund this effort. We are still in the preliminary stages of developing this program, but if you would like to be kept in the loop, please fill out this form.

What Can You Expect? Over the next two years, you will see the most ash trees removed from Lakewood’s landscape, and then we expect tree removal to slow.

Tree crews will work to remove trees mainly in the winter when the ground is frozen and the risk of damage to our landscape during removal is low. Clean-up, however, will extend through spring. Branches and tree remnants will be disposed of according to Minnesota Department of Agriculture standards.

We appreciate your patience and support as we undergo this necessary work. We'll keep families and visitors up to date with developments via this website and information at our main office. Direct any questions to us at or call 612-822-2171.

Read more about Minneapolis history and Lakewood

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Start a memorable tradition at Lakewood

A new library for a new city Watch "Lakewood's Greenhouse Operations, Then and Now" (video)

Founding mothers of Minneapolis: Early women leaders

Tour the Lakewood Chapel (video)

See upcoming events and tours at Lakewood

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3600 Hennepin Ave.  Minneapolis, MN 55408  |

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