Ash Tree Care Guide – Planting & Growing

How to care for an ash tree

Are you planning to plant an ash tree in your yard?


Terrific choice!


Owing to their size, ash trees make excellent shade trees. You can plant them as a single specimen in a garden or in bunches. Don’t you worry about how to care for ash trees, we have got you covered!


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Ash Tree Overview


Scientific Name Fraxinus excelsior
Family Oleaceae
Type Deciduous
Height 32 to 100 feet (or more)
Lifespan 30 to 300 years
Temperature USDA zone 3 to 9
Soil Loamy, moist, well-draining, wet clay soil
Leaves shape/type Pinnately compound
Flowering season Spring – but does not bear ornamental flower


How To Plant An Ash Tree?

To grow an ash tree from seed, you first need to pre-treat the seeds. So, start by filling a small container/ziplock bag with moist potting mix. Add the seeds to it. Keep the seeds in the refrigerator for about around 3 months. Don’t forget to sprinkle the soil with water in order to keep it moist.


After 3 months, take the pot out of the fridge and keep it on a heat mat. Set the temperature to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the container on the mat for about 3 months. Keep the pot in the fridge again, for about 3 months. Make sure not to let the soil dry out in these 9 months.


After letting it settle for a season, the seeds are ready to be planted. Plant the seeds in your desired location and water frequently to keep the soil moist. It will take the seeds around 8-12 weeks to germinate.


Ash Tree Care Guide

Here is what you need to know about how to care for an ash tree:


How much does an Ash tree need spacing?

Ash trees grow quite wide and tall on reaching maturity. Keep a distance of at least 20 feet (or 30 perhaps, to be on the safe side) between two trees and from the walls of your house.


Soil requirement

Soil requirements in ash trees vary according to the variety. For instance, European ash can tolerate a range of soils and pH levels while black ash has comparatively specific soil requirements.


Generally speaking, an ash tree grows well in well-drained, loamy, fertile organic soil. If your garden soil is heavy, add organic materials and sand. The pH of the soil should be between 4.0 -7.0.


How much water ash trees need?

New ash trees must be watered once in 7 to 10 days during summer. The water should reach about 2 to 3 feet deep. You can cut it down to once every 1 to 3 weeks during spring, fall and winter.


Once the tree is established, its watering needs will reduce unless there is a period of drought or scanty rainfall.


Ash tree fertilizer

You may not need to fertilize a mature ash tree unless you spot signs of stress or slow or no growth. This is especially true if your soil is right and contains ample organic compost and aged manure.


In case of young trees, slow-release fertilizer with a sufficient amount of phosphorous may help.


If the tree shows signs of a slow growth rate, a nitrogen high fertilizer will help. Follow the instructions given on the pack of your fertilizer for how much and when to use it.


Temperature and humidity

Ash trees can cope with a decent variance in temperatures and grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9. These are cold-hardy and drought-tolerant. As long as they have adequate soil drainage, humidity levels will not be a problem for ash trees.


The temperature and humidity requirements of ash trees also vary according to age and variety.



Spread around a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch containing organic material around your tree. This will help keep the soil moist and prevent the growth of weeds. Make sure there is adequate distance between the tree trunk and the mulch.


When should ash be pruned?

Another important part of how to care for ash trees is pruning. To prune your ash tree, it is best to wait until the tree drops its leaves in the fall and is dormant. Do not wait until ice or snowfall.


If you plan to prune your tree, the best time to do so will be in October. Dead and diseased branches can be removed whenever needed.


Is transplanting ash trees easy? How to do it?

Ash trees can survive transplanting as their roots tend to stay near the soil surface. Young ash trees are easier to transplant than mature ones.


Here is how to go about transplanting your ash tree:

  1. Choose a site that has lots of growing space, gets full sun and has suitable soil with ample organic matter.
  2. Dig up a hole that is large and deep enough for the root ball of the tree. The soil line at which your tree will sit in the new location needs to be the same as the previous spot.
  3. Now dig down around 12 inches out from the tree’s trunk.
  4. Once you have dug out about 10 to 12 inches of soil from around the tree, begin digging at a gradual angle. Be careful not to hit a mass of roots. Remember, you have to work your way around them.
  5. Keep digging down and around the roots until they are free from the ground.
  6. If some of the roots go beyond your digging, use your handsaw to cut them out.
  7. Once the roots are free, lift the tree from the hole.
  8. Gently set the tree on its side on a tarp near the digging site.
  9. Lift and tie the tarp around the root ball to keep the soil intact.
  10. Unwrap and place your tree in the new hole.
  11. Now gradually add soil around the root ball.
  12. Use a tamping tool to tamp down the soil as you move to the next layer.
  13. Continue until the hole is filled.
  14. Water generously. Allow the soil to settle in as the water drains for a few minutes.
  15. If necessary, add in more soil.
  16. A 10-to-12-inch layer of mulch around the tree can help the tree recover and regain its health.


How To Care for Different Types of Ash Trees?

The answer to how to care for an ash tree may vary according to the ash species. Here are a few specific caring tips for popular ash species.


Mountain Ash Tree Care

This ash variety is sensitive to heat and drought and needs sufficient water (about an inch every week) to stay healthy. They prefer full sun and well-drained acidic soil.


Maintaining moisture levels in the soil is important, especially during the first few weeks after the tree is planted. The tree may need to be watered more frequently during hot summers.


This ash tree variety is not a heavy feeder but may benefit from being given fertilizers once a year. It does not need regular pruning but occasionally cutting diseased or damaged branches is important to maintain its health.


Raywood Ash Tree Care

Thanks to its picturesque wine-red fall foliage, this spectacular ash variety is commonly used in gardens, yards, parking lots, streets, etc.


Raywood ash trees thrive in full sun exposure and do well in a variety of soil including loamy, sandy, mildly alkaline, and even acidic soil. The only thing, the soil should be well-draining.


While young trees require regular watering, mature and established ones need less frequent deep watering. Fertilizing is important during the growing stage of ash trees, after which its frequency can be decreased.


Autumn Purple Ash Tree Care

Another ash variety that is highly valued for its aesthetic value, the autumn purple ash features a dense and broad canopy with leaves that turn orange to purple in the fall.


This cultivator of white ash species grows well in moist, well-draining, slightly alkaline or neutral soil that is rich in organic matter. These can grow in heavy clay or loamy soils.


It is moderately drought resistant and needs full sun to partial shade. The autumn purple species of ash tree has average watering needs. It, however, does not tolerate salt air and strong winds.


Arizona Ash Tree Care

This upright, stately tree comes with a rounded canopy of deep green foliage. The foliage turns bright golden-yellow in fall.


Young trees require regular watering, but mature trees have moderate watering needs. However, it is best to water your Arizona ash tree regularly during hot and dry weather.


This ash variety needs full sunlight. However, if the canopy of the tree is too thin, it may face issues like sunscald.


Giving your tree a slow-release dry fertilizer once a year will help promote healthy growth. In warm, humid weather, the tree is prone to a fungal disease that isn’t deadly but can cause considerable damage.


Green Ash Tree Care

This hardy and fast-growing ash variety is native to North America. It features an upright trunk topped with an irregular, rounded canopy. It thrives in full sun and moist and well-drained soil.


Although these trees prefer keeping consistently moist, they can cope well during short drought periods. Green ash is quite cold-hardy and can tolerate an impressive variance in temperature.


Mature trees don’t really need fertilizers unless they show signs of stress. But this variety is quite adaptable and can be grown in a wide range of conditions. The emerald ash borer is one of the major threats faced by this tree.


What Kills Ash Trees?

Now that you know how to care for an ash tree, let’s take a look at the possible threats you need to protect your tree from:


1. Emerald ash borer: An EAB infestation can cause heavy damage to your tree. This green beetle damage the tree bark from within. In extreme cases, you may have to consider cutting it down.


2. Scale and Aphids: These common ash tree pests can damage, weaken or even kill your ash tree. Signs of aphid damage include distorted or curling leaves. Dying stems and branches point to scale attacks. Spotting and treating the problem in time can save your ash tree.


3. Ash anthracnose and verticillium wilt: These fungal diseases may cause the leaves of your tree to wilt and die back. Ash anthracnose leads to the formation of brown and purple spots on the leaves. If caught on time, it can be controlled. Verticillium wilt cannot be cured. However, with the right ash tree care, your tree may survive.


4. Ash rust: Although not a severe disease, it is reoccurring in nature and can end up weakening your ash tree. It leads to the appearance of yellow-orange spots on the leaves.


5. Ash yellows: This serious disease can affect green and white ash trees. It may cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop and can kill entire branches. This disease has no cure but spotting it on time and treating the tree with fungicide can help.



Q. How long does it take to grow an ash tree?

A. As ash trees have a medium to fast growth rate. Depending upon the variety and growing conditions, an ash tree can take anywhere between 16 to 60 years to grow full size.


Q. What is the lifespan of an ash tree?

A. The lifespan of an ash tree largely depends on its species. It can live from a couple of decades to a few hundred years. Varieties like Texas ash, Arizona ash and mountain ash tend to have a shorter lifespan. Whereas varieties like White ash trees, green ash, Raywood ash, and golden ash trees may live up to more than 100 years.


Q. With the right care, how much is ash tree’s height and spread?

A. Depending upon the variety and growing conditions, an ash tree can be anywhere between 30 to 120 feet in height with a sprawling canopy that can reach anywhere between 40 to 50 feet. Proper ash tree care might play a role in ensuring a better and healthier growth rate.


Q. Do ash trees need to be cut down?

A. If your tree is dying or already dead due to damage caused by emerald ash borer attacks, it is better to remove it. If not removed, the tree may prove to be hazardous. Trees that are in very poor health are prone to EAB infestations. In this case, too, you may consider cutting down your ash tree.


Q. What are the benefits of Ash trees?

A. Ash trees have more than one benefit:

– Their wood is used in furniture modeling and flooring.

– These trees possess medicinal properties as well.

– They are also used in soap-making and deodorant industries.