The Q&A Archives: trimming a Raywood Ash

Question: We have a raywood ash that has not been pruned. It's 10-12 years old, maybe. it has grown crooked, but every one says it's ok. But the Branches seem too heavy for the tree. When it rains and it has leaves the lower branches hang way down. How should one be prunned and what should it look like after pruning? I have a younger one and it looks like the picture on your site. But I think they should be thined out. Help.

Answer: Pruning is as much of an art as it is a science. You want to prune to remove dead, diseased, dying, crossing, rubbing, or broken branches, then prune to shape. Try not to remove more than one third of the live material in any annual prunning session. If your tree has never been pruned and you want to reduce the height and width, plan on doing it over a 2-3 year period. Winter or very early spring is the best time to prune. If you prune now, your ash tree may develop suckers or water sprouts (unproductive upright growth) rather than new stems and branches at the site of the cuts. When you cut a branch back, try to cut it to just in front an old leaf scar (node). This is where new growth will emerge. Sometimes the cuts we make do not produce the growth we anticipate. If this happens, cut the branch back again, this time a little closer to the trunk. Eventually your ash will take on a more civilized look and the branches won't droop down quite so much when the leaves are heavy with rain. Hope this information is helpful!

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