Ash Trees: All You Need to Know

ash tree

Ash trees are one of the most beautiful additions to any landscape. These deciduous and stately trees give off spectacular colors during autumn, with its majestic foliage turning all shades of gold, purple, red, and orange.

Given enough space, an Ash tree can reach its full potential, growing to 40 to 60 feet in height, with some species even going as high as 80 feet, with a spread of around 25 feet. It’s one of the most effective ways to up your home’s curb appeal, not to mention give you a lovely tree to spy on every morning.

Different Types of Ash Trees

Ash trees belong to the Oleaceae, making them a relative of Olive trees. Ash trees are highly distinguishable by their opposing branches and compound leaves. Like deciduous trees, ash tree leaves and flowers contain both male and female reproductive parts, with each tree being a ‘boy’ tree or a ‘girl’ tree.

Female ash trees have flowers that produce winged seeds that float into the air and pollinate male ash trees in the vicinity.

For home gardeners, ash trees can be found in local gardening stores or plant nurseries, with young specimens usually being around a year old and ranging between 2 feet to 5 feet in height. Different species of ash trees will have different characteristics that set them apart from one another.

White Ash

The tallest Ash tree in the family, White Ash, also known by its scientific name Fraxinus Americana, can grow up to 80 feet in height, and usually flourish in mild to moderate climates. Native to the Eastern Coast of the United States, white Ash tree barks are distinctive for their grayish color, maturing into a rounded crown as it gets older.

White Ash tree flowers, usually purplish or green in color, come out during the spring before its foliage reappears, growing in clusters of winged seeds that mature by autumn.

In autumn, ash tree leaves change color to yellow, turning into purple-red as it approaches winter. White ash tree leaves also have a whitish hue in its underside, making it one of the most colorful species of ash tree out there.

Green Ash

Much like its cousin, the Green Ash, also known by its scientific name Fraxinus Pennsylvanica, can grow tall, with many of its species growing to 70 feet in full maturity. It’s often mistaken for White Ash trees because of their similar appearance, but the Green Ash, true to its name, has greener leaves which turn yellow in the fall.

They also have a rounded crown when they mature, and the Green Ash tree flowers appear in spring after the growth of its foliage.

green ash tree

Black Ash

Native to the Northeastern part of the country, Black Ash, or Fraxinus Nigra, grows slower and smaller than its green and white counterparts, reaching only 60 feet in full maturity. Black Ash develops a rounded crown with green foliage when it is fully matured, but unlike its other Ash tree relatives, it can tolerate wetter, more humid conditions better.

Black Ash tree leaves grow out later than White and Green Ash, appearing in late spring rather than early spring. Winged seeds and flowers develop during the fall, and the Black Ash tree’s bark is softer than the other Ash trees.

Growing Conditions for the Ash Tree

Ash trees thrive in moderate climates and require lots of sun, with the Black Ash requiring the most sun of the three different types. While all three ash tree types thrive the most in rich, well-drained soil that’s moistened often, it can tolerate dry conditions fairly well, with White Ash trees being the hardiest to drought among the three. However, for optimal growth, it’s best to keep the soil around the Ash Trees roots moist with regular watering.

Ash Tree Uses and Planting Considerations

Ash Trees are big trees, with their spread being just as impressive as their height. When choosing where to plant an Ash Tree, consider how big they’ll get when they’ve fully matured, which means watching out for obstructions like houses or power lines or other trees. It’s best to plant your Ash tree as a showpiece display, separated from other trees to give room for its spread and height, and highlighting how impressive the tree truly is.

It’s easily one of the best home upgrades that can change your life, as the tree adds not just curb and visual appeal, but also provide shade and wildlife into your property.

When planting, try not to go deeper than when it was growing inside its original container. This is because deep planting can put undue stress on its roots, leading to sub-prime growth and even an early demise. Ash trees, like most trees, are highly susceptible to wind damage, so it’s best to plant them in areas with low winds as Ash tree branches can become quite the hazard should they break free and fly into your house.

Ash tree flowers attract different kinds of birds, so if you’re looking for a tree that can add to the wildlife in your yard, it’s the perfect plant. They have a lot of leaves, so be prepared to rake them all up when winter comes around. They also drop a lot of seeds which, if left unchecked, will grow into trees themselves.


How to Care for Ash Trees

Ash trees are hardy, but when they’re properly maintained and cared for, they can thrive into one of the most impressive trees in any garden and are easily one of those home upgrades people don’t really think of. Make sure to keep the soil around the tree regularly moist, with organic mulch around the plant site to prevent weed growth. However, make sure to keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to minimize the risk of the Ash tree developing a disease.

Fertilizing an Ash Tree

Ash trees usually do not require regular fertilization, with an annual application around the fall being the best time to do it, as this helps the tree prepare for winter. Ash trees don’t require any special fertilizer; just your run-of-the-mill, all-purpose tree fertilizer is fine. Apply this as per package directions on the underside of the trees canopy and evenly over the planting site.

Pruning an Ash Tree

Major corrective pruning is best done to younger ash trees during the fall. Pruning helps trees develop better form and stronger structures, and it’s important to do this as early as possible for your ash trees. Be aware of suckers and prune them off if you find one by cutting them off flush to the trunk. Dead, damaged branches should also be pruned off, as well as branches that might cross each other’s path.

A note about pruning: always make sure to make your pruning cuts a few inches above the dead parts of the branch so that you cut off any dead cells off the tree completely.

Ash Trees are Fussy Giants

While Ash trees are hardy, they can also be fussy; owning and maintaining an ash tree does require you to check up on it every so often to check on damaged branches or marks of disease in the trunk. Because of its size, Ash trees can develop mold or attract pests in areas that you might miss if you give it just a cursory glance.

Try to inspect your Ash trees nooks and crannies at least once a month, if only to make sure that the tree is growing as healthy as possible.


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