Oak Tree Trimming Guide



Why choose wikiHow?
When you see the green expert checkmark on a wikiHow article, you know that the article has received careful review by a qualified expert. If you are on a medical article, that means that an actual doctor, nurse or other medical professional from our medical review board reviewed and approved it. Similarly, veterinarians review our pet articles, lawyers review our legal articles, and other experts review articles based on their specific areas of expertise.

How to Trim Oak Trees

Two Methods:

Oak trees can be some of the most beautiful trees in the neighborhood with their huge canopies and branching limbs, but it takes work to keep an oak healthy and growing strong. An unkempt oak left to grow wildly can be unhealthy and full of disease making it in danger of falling. To ensure your oaks stays strong and healthy, pruning the dead, diseased, and unruly branches is necessary. Understanding the pruning process makes tree trimming an easy and fun task, and leaves you with a beautiful, healthy oak.

Steps

Pruning Young Oak Trees

  1. Prune young oaks in mid to late winter, or January through March.Trimming your tree during the winter months allows it to care for its wounds in spring when it will recover more quickly.
    • Limit trimming only to dead or broken branches on newly planted trees.
    • Two to three years after planting you can begin developmental trimming to shape the tree.
    • Learn the growth habits of your particular type of oak tree
  2. Prepare your tools for trimming.Before trimming, you’ll need to soak your clippers and saw blade with 9 parts water and 1 part bleach. Then rinse the tools off and let them air dry.
  3. Establish a dominant leader branch.To create a healthy oak tree that create beautiful shade, you need to develop one dominant branch on the tree. Look at your tree and notice the largest branches. There maybe 2 or even 3 branches that are all large and a similar size to each other. As the tree grows, these will turn into multiple leaders and create a weaker tree.
    • Decide which branch looks like it is the most vertical and centered on the trunk and choose that one to be the dominant leader.
    • Trim the other branches that may turn into other leaders by reducing their size to allow more sunlight to reach the dominant leader you chose.
    • Keep the dominant leader long.
  4. Make cuts outside the branch collar.The branch collar is the swelling at the base of the branch where it begins to connect to the trunk. Trimming branches down to the branch collar will hurt the main trunk of the tree causing it damage to important tissues necessary for growth.
    • Shorten large branches by cutting them back to a lateral branch or bud.
    • Always make angled cuts to encourage growth
  5. Keep the crown of the tree full.Never remove more that one third of the tree’s canopy in a single season. The tree depends on a healthy crown to create food from the sunlight and grow healthy roots in the ground. This is especially important when the tree is young.
  6. Keep trimming each year to shape your tree.You need to prune young trees yearly to keep them growing healthily. Make sure the dominant leader is always the largest branch and trim back any large splits. Trim the branches that will prevent your tree from growing how you want it to:
    • Dead, diseased, or broken branches
    • Branches that cross over or rub other branches
    • Inward growing branches
    • Branches that are growing directly on top of other branches

Caring for Mature Oak Trees

  1. Trim with a purpose.Pruning branches from mature trees takes a lot of weight off the tree and can change the shape drastically, so it is important to really think about which branches you are going to trim before you make the cut. Pruning branches from mature trees should only be done for specific purposes:
    • Removing dead, diseased or broken branches
    • Remove branches to create more sunlight or air flow to the canopy of the tree. Be careful doing this as you don’t want to “thin out” the canopy.
  2. Cut the top and bottom of large branches.Making a single cut to large branches may cause them to tear off the tree and rip off the bark as they fall. Proper trimming ensures healthy bark:
    • Make an undercut on the branch about 1 to 2 feet out from the branch collar, or the point where it connects to the trunk.
    • Make a second cut on the top of the branch a few inches farther out that the undercut.
    • This prevents the falling branch from tearing the bark off of the trunk.
    • After the bulk of the branch falls, you can trim back the 1 to 2 feet the you left on the tree by cutting it at an angle 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) from the branch collar.
  3. Allow the tree to heal the cut.After pruning the branches from your oak tree, leave the wound alone to let the tree heal itself in the open air.
    • Prune carefully to not injure the tree excessively, and make sure the tree has plenty of water.
    • Trees will naturally seal cuts; it is not necessary to apply an artificial sealant as this may trap microorganisms inside the tree and lead to disease.

Community Q&A

Search
  • Question
    When should you trim an oak tree?

    Horticulturist
    Lauren Kurtz is a Horticulturist in Colorado. She has worked as a horticulture specialist for the City of Aurora, Water Conservation Department since 2019.
    Horticulturist
    Expert Answer
    The winter is the best time to prune trees. The visibility is better when the leaves are gone and the tree will also recover and heal faster if pruned during the winter.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Can I cut back an oak tree?

    Horticulturist
    Lauren Kurtz is a Horticulturist in Colorado. She has worked as a horticulture specialist for the City of Aurora, Water Conservation Department since 2019.
    Horticulturist
    Expert Answer
    Yes, oak trees should be pruned regularly to remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches and to thin out the canopy. Hire or consult a professional arborist before felling large branches. Remove 1/3 of the branches once a year or every several years.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Can I cut branches from an oak tree in July?

    Horticulturist
    Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
    Horticulturist
    Expert Answer
    It's not recommended to prune or cut during the summer, with the exception of extreme situations. Try holding out until the winter in order to allow them to heal in the spring.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    My 10-year-old oak tree has a straggly branch that's very high up. Can I cut this off to try to make the lower branches look better?

    Horticulturist
    Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
    Horticulturist
    Expert Answer
    Yes, but it's recommended that any very high branches should be cut by professionals, due to safety concerns.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I trim back a neighbor's tree?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The best way is to work with your neighbor and decide how to trim the tree. Legally, you can usually trim anything straight above your property line.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Is October a good time to cut a large limb?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can prune a tree or bush at any time of the year. Just pay attention where you cut, and follow standard guidelines for where to cut.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How long after cutting will they start coming back?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It depends what time of the year it is being cutting. If you did it during the winter, then the spring is when you see new growth.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Is it okay to trim dead branches from oak trees during the late spring and summer months?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. There is no special time to trim dead branches from any tree because they are no longer part of the tree; they only weigh it down unnecessarily.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    If I pruned in May, do I need to apply a sealant?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If oak wilt is possible or common in your area, then you should seal, especially in May. Oak wilt can be active then. Otherwise, sealing is not generally necessary or helpful.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    My neighbor's oak is growing over my roof, when can it be trimmed?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    January through March.
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • Do I need to trim the canopy or take the tree down if my oak tree is leaning to one side?
  • Will cutting the small growth coming from a limb hurt the mature tree?
  • I have an oak tree, three trunks. Each trunk is about 14 inches. If I cut one trunk will the other two survive?
  • Will trimming my oak tree ruin the balance of the branches?
  • I gave a small oak tree I grew from an acorn. It is about 3 years old, There are several branches that are growing close to the ground. Should I cut these off?
Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

Video

Quick Summary

Trim oak trees between January and March so they can heal quickly in the spring. When you’re preparing to trim the tree, soak your clippers and saw in 9 parts water and 1 part bleach and let them air dry. Then, choose one strong, vertical branch to be the leader. Remove the other large branches by making cuts outside the collar where the branch meets the trunk. If you cut the collar, you will damage the tree.

Did this summary help you?
  • Using high quality, sharp tools for your pruning is the best way to make sure your tree heals quickly from the cuts. Old, dull tools can cause unnecessary pulling on the fibers of the branch.
  • Prune your tree in mid to late winter (January-March) for the best results.
  • Learn about your species of oak and local climate before beginning to prune. Check your local library, nature center, or nurseries to find out more information.
  • Successfully trimming a young tree is the best way to make sure you end up with a healthy mature oak that doesn’t need much pruning.

Warnings

  • Pruning mature oak trees at home is best kept to the smaller, lower branches that need pruning. Any branches up high in the tree should be left to a professional to cut.
  • Read all instruction manuals for pruning tools before you use them to make sure you are using them safely.
  • Wear safety items like gardening gloves, safety glasses, and long sleeves when trimming your oak tree.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  • Videos provided by

Made Recently

Loading...
Did you try these steps?
Upload a picture for other readers to see.
Upload error
Awesome picture! Tell us more about it?

Article Info

Categories:

In other languages:

Русский: , Italiano: , Português: , Français: , Español: , Nederlands: , Deutsch: 

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 153,535 times.





Video: How to Trim an Oak Tree So That it Can Heal Correctly to Avoid Rotting

How to Trim Oak Trees
How to Trim Oak Trees images

2019 year
2019 year - How to Trim Oak Trees pictures

How to Trim Oak Trees recommendations
How to Trim Oak Trees forecast photo

How to Trim Oak Trees picture
How to Trim Oak Trees images

How to Trim Oak Trees How to Trim Oak Trees new photo
How to Trim Oak Trees new picture

pics How to Trim Oak Trees
photo How to Trim Oak Trees

Watch How to Trim Oak Trees video
Watch How to Trim Oak Trees video

Discussion on this topic: How to Trim Oak Trees, how-to-trim-oak-trees/
Communication on this topic: How to Trim Oak Trees, how-to-trim-oak-trees/ , how-to-trim-oak-trees/

Related News


10 Classic Pieces That Should Be In Your Summer Wardrobe
Joanna Saltz
Chelsea Handlers Badass Bench Press Will Inspire You to Up Your Workout Game
How to Make a Scottish Haggis
8 Easy Ways to Lose Weight
Spiced Apple and Walnut Jars
Sex and the City 3: Is a third movie in the pipeline or not, then
New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy
21 Creative Checked Skirt Outfits For Summer
HP Sprocket portable photo printer review
How to Make a Summer Smoothie Bowl
10 Chignon Buns for Every Occasion – New Season’s Best Buns
VB Broke All the Usual Winter Dressing Rules With This Unlikely Outfit Combo
Marc by Marc Jacobs Menswear: SS14 Collection
30 Blonde Ombre Hair Ideas



Date: 08.12.2018, 18:21 / Views: 43341