Ash trees, also called Fraxinus excelsior, are a type of deciduous tree that are often self-sufficient and will not usually need extreme care. They are known to be strong, durable, and have a long lifespan that can even last from 30 to 300 years.
Ash trees are often planted for ornamental reasons, however, most owners are surprised at their growth, as they can have a big root system and will often reach around 60 to 90 feet. Due to this reason, planting an ash tree in a residential area is not really recommended, as it can cause many problems to a home’s foundation. The height of the tree is also an issue, as it can be harder to maintain, and may be the cause of some unfortunate accidents.
Because ash trees are beautiful and grand, there are still many people who want to try planting them in their backyard and are seeking ways to keep them at a smaller height.
Is it possible to keep an ash tree small?
Keeping an ash tree small is certainly possible, however, it will take too much work. If you want to keep your tree at a smaller size, you will need to be prepared to extend your time and effort in order to be successful. Also, there may be some side effects when this is done, and you will need to manage your expectations, as it is possible for your tree to not survive. This can happen if you are doing the work without seeking the help and opinion of an expert.
The most popularly used and recommended method by arborists (tree doctors) to keep an ash tree small is by pruning it. As mentioned above, ash trees can reach at least 90 feet and even more once they are already mature. If you really want to keep your tree small, the method would be more effective if your tree is still young and growing.
You can certainly try to do prune your mature trees, but this will be very risky, and your ash tree may not be able to survive.
How to prune an ash tree properly
According to the tree experts, the most effective and reliable way to keep an ash tree at a smaller size is by proper pruning. Because ash trees are considered to be large in size, you should expect that you will need to have them pruned more often compared to trees that are considered to be smaller.
The proper time to prune ash trees
Before getting your tools ready (if you are doing the pruning yourself), you should know the best time to prune your tree. Just like similar trees that are considered to be big and wide such as oak and elm, it is recommended to have them pruned in the spring or fall. Ash trees may reap more benefits once pruned during fall, but should never be pruned during summer, as they are susceptible to be infested to the ash boring pests, which can lead to their demise.
The tools needed to prune ashes
When you have already decided on the date where you will prune your tree, it would be best to prepare your tools beforehand. Make sure that the tools you are using are the sharpest they can be, as using dull ones can damage your tree and will result in jagged and sloppy cuts.
Before using the tools, make sure to disinfect them. This is very important, as dirty equipment will definitely be harmful to your tree. This also makes them more prone to disease, infections, and infestations. You can disinfect your tools by wiping alcohol to their blades or dipping them into the solution.
The proper way to prune ash trees
When pruning an ash tree, it would be best to cut it closer to its trunk in order to avoid infestations. If you want to keep it small, you may have to prune the tree several times. You will need to note the shape that your tree is growing into as you would not want to cut any integral branches and damage the tree. In cases when there are some damaged branches, cut them off properly and when possible, remove the stubs.
It is important to remember that keeping an ash tree small will be difficult, as it is meant to be large.
Can you top an ash tree?
Topping, or removing the crown or top foliage of a tree, is absolutely not recommended for most trees, especially for ash. Although the procedure will make the tree small after the topping, it would make the ash tree grown even faster, which defeats the purpose. Also, the newer branches will be significantly weaker, which will make the tree dangerous, as it can topple down without warning.
Why it would be best to call an arborist
If you really want to keep your ash tree alive but small, an arborist will be needed. Maintaining an ash tree to a small size will not be easy, but this can be done with a professional’s help. Pruning an ash tree to the desired size may take a long time, and your arborist can make it happen.