Pruning Ash Trees: When And How To Prune Ash Trees
The best time to prune ash trees is during the winter season. This year it will be late November or early December. However, if you are planning to prune your tree in autumn, then you have two options: You can wait until after the last frost (or freeze) before cutting off branches; Or you can start pruning right away when the weather starts warming up again.
When to Prune Ash Trees?
You may want to prune your ash trees at any time of the year. But there are certain times when you should only do so. These include:
1. Spring – Summer Season : If you live in a climate where the seasons change very quickly, then spring and summer are the most suitable months for pruning ash trees because they grow faster than other seasons.
So don’t worry too much about pruning them in these months!
2. Fall – Winter Season : If you live in a climate where the seasons change slowly, then fall and winter are the ideal months for pruning ash trees because they grow slower than other seasons.
Therefore, it’s always better to leave some branches on your ash trees when they’re growing fast and just cut them all off when they stop growing.
3. Year-round : If you live in a place where the climate doesn’t change very often, then you can prune your ash trees all year round.
Just avoid doing so just after a frost or freeze because branches may be damaged and they won’t grow back.
How to Prune Ash Trees?
Now some of you may be asking: How should I prune my ash trees?
Well, the answer to this question depends on your goals.
Do you want to change the shape of your tree? Do you want to increase sunlight in your backyard? Do you want to create more space for garden while reducing the size of the tree?
Anyway, if your answer is yes to any of the questions above then it’s recommended that you go for crown lifting pruning. Crown lifting simply means lifting or shortening the height of the crown (top part) of the ash tree without pruning it severely. This will change the overall shape of the tree but it won’t destroy it.
Crown lifting is done during summer because ash trees grow faster in this season and they can easily recover from pruning. Your goal should be to shorten the height of the crown by just one third to one half. Anything more than that and your tree will look weird.
But what should you do if you want to change the shape of the crown? For example, if you want an oval-shaped crown instead of the normal round one?
In such a case, it’s recommended that you go for crown thinning pruning. In this type of pruning, majority of the branches are cut off so that the crown takes the shape that you desire.
Now, there are two different ways in which you can perform this task:
1. Deference in Height : If you just want to change the shape of the crown without drastically shortening its height, then it’s recommended that you do some selective pruning higher up in the crown.
This will reduce the size of the crown significantly without damaging its overall shape.
2. Even Height : On the other hand, if you want to shorten the height of the crown by a large extent, then you should go for even pruning throughout the crown.
This will result in an oval-shaped crown that’s shorter than the original round one.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget to choose your branches carefully so that sun light can reach all areas of the backyard.
After pruning, it’s recommended that you fertilize your ash tree. You can do this by using a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of about 5-5-5. You can opt for slow-release type to prevent over-fertilization.
How-to : Once you’ve decided on when to fertilize your tree, now you need to choose how. In other words, you need to learn the best way to apply the fertilizer. There are basically two ways in which you can do this: through soil and through foliage.
If you choose to fertilize through soil, then it’s recommended that you do it in early spring. Just take some of the soil from deep within the root zone of your ash tree and put it aside. Then, add the recommended amount of fertilizer to the rest of the soil and mix both equally. Add this mixture to the root zone of your tree and that’s all.
If you choose to fertilize through foliage, then you should do it just after spring pruning. All you need to do in this case is put some of the recommended fertilizer on the foliage of your tree. If the leaves are small, then you can wipe them off gently. If they’re large, then you should make several holes and pour the fertilizer in them.
After applying the fertilizer, make sure that you water the soil properly. This will improve the absorption of nutrients and will result in faster growth.
Fall is the best time for pruning ash trees. The best way to start this process is by examining the general shape of your tree. Now, if you want to keep the same shape then you can stop reading here. Just make sure that you fertilize it properly.
On the other hand, if you want to change the shape in some way, then read further.
At this point, you have two options: top-cutting and shaping.
1. Topping : Topping is the quickest way of changing the shape of your tree.
It involves cutting off the top portion of your ash tree to change its overall shape. However, keep in mind that this method can be a bit harsh for your tree and may even kill it if not done properly. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced gardener then go ahead and give it a try; just make sure that you know what you’re doing.
2. Shaping : Shaping, on the other hand, is a bit safer way of changing the shape of your tree.
With this technique, you won’t be cutting the main trunk but rather branches. After doing this for a couple of years, you’ll end up with the exact shape that you want. Keep in mind that it can take a few years before you see final results. You should also keep in mind that this method is best for those who prefer slow and steady wins the race.
Regardless of which option you choose, your tree will remain healthy as long as you follow the proper guidelines when it comes to fertilizing and watering. Also, make sure to prune diseased and dead wood to keep your tree in the best shape possible.
That’s about it. Keep these things in mind and your tree will be just fine. Happy planting!
Sources & references used in this article:
Can pruning help maintain vitality of ash trees affected by ash dieback in urban landscapes? by D Marciulyniene, K Davydenko, J Stenlid… – Urban Forestry & Urban …, 2017 – Elsevier
Multiple-year protection of ash trees from emerald ash borer with a single trunk injection of emamectin benzoate, and single-year protection with an imidacloprid … by DR Smitley, JJ Doccola, DL Cox – Journal of Arboriculture, 2010 – canr.msu.edu
Effects of defoliation and antitranspirant treatment on transplant response of scarlett oak, green ash and Turkish hazelnut by JR Harris, NL Bassuk – Journal of Arboriculture, 1995 – hort.cornell.edu