Ash trees are deciduous trees that are known for their furrowed bark and compound leaves. They make good additions to a backyard landscape, but they do require a little maintenance to keep them in good health. Without the proper care, they are susceptible to fungal conditions, like ash yellows, as well as infestations of beetles like the Emerald Ash Borer. So, how do you keep your ash tree healthy? The following are four guidelines to follow:
1. Prune the tree each winter.
Pruning is important for a few reasons. First, it ensures that any dead branches are removed so that fungi cannot attack them. Second, it ensures that air can flow through the tree branches, which keeps the branches dry. Fungi are less likely to grow on dry leaves, and insects like the Emerald Ash Borer are less attracted to dry leaves, too. Make sure you prune the tree in late winter, as this is when the wounds will heal the fastest. There are no insects around to be attracted to the oozing sap in the winter, either.
2. Water the tree when rain is scarce.
Under normal conditions, you should not have to water an ash tree. They have pretty extensive root systems and can obtain water from deep below ground. However, the trees can suffer during times of drought. When drought weakens the tree, the tree then becomes increasingly prone to blight and infection. A good guideline to follow is to water the tree when it has not rained in at least a month. Soak the ground in a big, donut shape around the tree's trunk, being careful not to wet the trunk itself.
3. Apply fertilizer to the ground.
Trees only need to be fertilized periodically and many survive for decades without any sort of fertilization. However, a once-a-year fertilization will go a long way towards keeping your ash tree healthy if a blight does blow through your area. Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer, as this will encourage the tree to put out more leaves. Apply it according to the instructions on the package. You should also use this time to apply an Emerald Ash Borer treatment to the tree to prevent an infestation.
4. Don't bring firewood onto your property.
This is a good rule to follow with any sort of tree, but especially with disease-susceptible ash trees. The wood may be harboring insects that could carry a fungal disease, and it could even be harboring the dangerous emerald ash borers, which can take out an ash tree in months.
To learn more about ash tree care, reach out to a tree service in your area.