Raywood Ash Tree in need to be topped

Asked June 2, 2019, 8:20 PM EDT

Is it OK to top off about 10 feet of a 50 foot tall Raywood Ash Tree that is about 10 years old. And can it be done now this summer before winter storms. The Shallow Root System of the tree has us concerned about it being blown over next winter. Two winters ago it started to topple but we were able to stabilize it and it seems fine now. Can we cut it back now, or are we going to damage or kill the tree? I would really like to do now but really like the tree. It is very healthy now so should I go ahead and top it now or wait until this winter when it is dormant?
See photo with cut line?

Jackson County Oregon

3 Responses

We'd hate to see you call an arborist and ask him to "top" your tree. A good arborist would refuse to make such a cut, but might recommend selectively thinning some of the branches so that the weight of the top is lessened. Raywood ash are beautiful street, patio, and shade trees. They generally are drought tolerant. Perhaps your tree is located where it gets a lot of water, perhaps from a lawn, thus keeping the roots shallow. An arborist should be able to advise you as to root strength and depth, relieving your concerns about the tree toppling over.. Topping a tree results in stubbed branches which tend to regrow in many small, sucker- like branches. This new growth will not only affect the appearance of the tree, but potentially open the cut limbs to pests and disease. If the present tree height is too great for the location, the solution is to remove the tree, not remove only the top. Sorry that is not good news;hopefully an arborist can save the tree without disfiguring it.

Marjorie N.
Than you for your response. I'm impressed and appreciate you expertise. I guess we'll take our chances with it toppling over in high winds. I'm sure the roots are shallow as the tree is surrounded by lawn that is on a sprinkler system. But it is now close to 15 years old so it's hopefully much more established than four years ago when it started to fall in a storm.
Thanks again

Bruce: You might still want to consider thinning some of the heaviest branches--just don't cut off a branch in its middle (which is what topping really is). You might also want to look closely at that sprinkler system. if it is on an automatic clock, perhaps you are over-watering. You can also look at where water actually hits inside the "dripline" (the outer extent of the branches) and perhaps redirect some of the sprinklers or replace them with half-circles that spray away from the tree, etc. Again, some professional help might be the best way to go--save your tree and your nerves!Thanks for using Ask an Expert.