How to properly prune a live oak tree


Tree Pruning, Especially Oaks - Neil Sperry's GARDENS

I’m asked several times weekly when it’s safe to prune oak trees. People are usually concerned about spreading oak wilt by pruning improperly.

As we pulled into a parking spot last week, I saw this pruning work obviously done by a professional team. It had all been done so perfectly, except – where was the pruning sealant? According to foresters and plant pathologists, that’s a must when you’re pruning live oaks.

I decided to address tree pruning in two steps. We’ll start with the oaks, and we’ll spread to the general topic of all trees.

Overhead photo from Texas Oak Wilt Partnership website shows impact oak wilt has on native stands of live oaks. Timing of pruning is an important part of stopping its spread.

Pruning oaks: How and when…
Because they are subject to a vascular fungus that has killed thousands of live oaks and red oaks across Texas, how and when we prune these trees is ultra-important. Here are your important facts.

Insects are a major carrier of the oak wilt fungus. They move most freely to open wounds.

Insects are inactive in winter, so prime pruning time was initially determined to be Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day.

Odd discoloration of live oak leaves is important clue to identification of oak wilt invasion.

The oak wilt fungus is inactive at temperatures above 95F, so it was later determined that pruning could be done after mid-July and running through Valentine’s Day.

All cut surfaces larger than a broomstick (or your thumb) should be coated with pruning paint (or paint of some type) to prevent direct access to the fresh wood by the tiny beetle that carries the fungus.

There is a fungicide that can be injected into healthy trees that are within oak wilt zones. This is work that is probably better left to a certified arborist who specializes in oak wilt.

Oak wilt is also transmitted by root grafts, so if you have a grove (also known as a “mott”) of oaks with roots that are intertwined, you may need to consider having trenches cut through the root systems to prevent spread of the disease. Again, a trained certified arborist (ask for credentials) would be your best source of help.

As for whether you may or may not be seeing oak wilt in your trees or down the road, I’m going to refer you to an outstanding website maintained by professionals of the Texas A&M Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service (hard to beat those resources). Click here for all of their help.

Continued Below

Pruning trees: General guidelines…
Entire books are written on proper pruning of shade trees (oaks included). Certified arborists have to pass difficult exams in order to prove that they are completely trained and qualified to be designated as “certified.” Here, however, are a few overall consumer facts and tips that can prove very useful.

You cannot change a tree’s growth habit or mature size by pruning. You won’t keep a live oak from spreading far and wide and covering an entire city lot, and you won’t keep a pecan from running into the power lines. Those things are genetically pre-determined, and repeated pruning only delays the inevitable.

But you can affect the pattern of a tree’s trunk and limbs. You can help it avoid narrow crotches and branch angles. You can remove low-hanging branches that are causing excessive shade or creating safety concerns.

Other than for oaks and the oak wilt concerns noted above, pruning can be done at almost any time of the year. Certified arborists will be able to guide you.

Only skilled climbers should be working in trees. These men from Arborilogical Services of DFW take care of our trees, including this giant pecan. I don’t believe I’m the man for this task!

Only trained professionals should climb into trees to do pruning. I have watched them do their work, and it is a highly skilled science that leaves no room for mistakes.

On a side note, and specifically referring to one of the advertisers here in e-gardens for purposes of disclosure, Arborilogical Services was doing work in the trees at our house. I asked owner Steve Houser why I never saw any ladders on any of his trucks. His immediate response: “If a climber needs a ladder, I don’t hire him. I need climbers who can safely ascend from the ground to do their work.” I might add that his employees have won the Texas Tree Climbing Championship more than 20 times.

Never lift your chain saw above your head. That greatly reduces the chances of serious injury.

We had one large branch on the huge pecan that was precariously close to our rooftop. It was decided that that branch needed to come off. You can see how it was removed leaving just a bit of the branch collar to aid in the healing.You can see how the roll of new bark is forming perfectly across the cut surface. Within a few years the cut will be completely healed. Since this is not an oak, pruning paint was not applied.This cut was made way too close to the trunk. As a result, no branch collar was left and far too much internal wood was left exposed. This pruning job may not turn out well. Facebook friend J.C. posted this photo last week.

When removing a large branch, use the 3-step approach to prevent bark peeling down the main trunk:

1. Make an undercut into the bottom of the branch 10 or 12 inches out from the trunk. It should extend 1/4 of the way up into the branch.

2. Go 3 inches farther out on the branch and cut from the top of the branch all the way through until the branch falls. The bark on the bottom of the branch will peel, but it will be stopped where it intersects with the undercut.

3. Come back near the trunk and make the final cut almost flush, leaving a piece of the branch collar in place for faster healing.

The branch collar is a critical concept. Think of it as the “delta” of a river, where the river broadens as it enters a larger body of water. You want to make your cut back in the narrower area, not through the delta. That way you’ll be exposing less fresh wood. You’ll be leaving a uniform ring of wood to develop a roll of new bark. Over the next few years, that roll will grow to cover the wound. Eventually you won’t be able to tell that a branch was ever removed.

This sapling was neglected when the trunk had a branch broken off. Decay set in and has since moved all the way down one side of the trunk. Soon, I fear, the trunk will be lost.

By comparison, if you leave a stub in place as you prune, it will never heal. Decay will set in and eventually the rot will move down into the main trunk. After a few years the entire tree will be lost.

As for pruning sealant, research of the past 25-30 years has shown that it’s really not necessary (except with oaks). In fact, trees that are left unsprayed usually heal more rapidly than trees whose pruning cuts are sealed.

Posted by Neil Sperry

How to Trim a Southern Live Oak | Home Guides

By Nathalie Alonso Updated November 22, 2021

Southern live oaks (Quercus virginiana) are long-lived, broadleaf evergreen trees native to the eastern United States. Pruning live oak trees early is the key to establishing a strong branch structure, though it must be done at the right time to avoid disease. The Southern live oak is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 to 10.

Southern Live Oak Characteristics

The Southern live oak occurs naturally from Virginia to Florida and west to Texas. These trees have long life spans: In the right conditions, they are capable of living for centuries.

Live oaks grow in a rounded habit. Though their trunks are on the short side, Southern live oaks can reach heights between 40 and 80 feet. Their spread is quite broad and may be anywhere from 60 to 100 feet. The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends the Southern live oak for planting in large lawns as well as parks. They are also used commonly as street trees.

While Southern live oaks are evergreen, with shiny, dark green leaves with lighter undersides, they may drop their leaves in the fall in the northern limits of their hardiness range, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Like other oaks, this species produces acorns. They acorns are green when they emerge and turn brown as they mature.

Pruning Live Oak Trees

Young oak trees grow fairly quickly, which is why they need to be pruned annually during the first three years after they're planted, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. The goal of pruning is to establish a strong central leader by removing any additional trunks and branches. After three years, Southern live oaks should be pruned once every five years until they're 30 years old.

Timing is very important when it comes to pruning live oak trees. The best time to prune Southern live oaks, according to the Clemson University Extension, is in late summer. It's important not to prune in the middle of spring or in early summer, warns the University of Florida IFAS Extension, as wounds made during this time can become an entry point for a fatal fungal disease known as oak wilt. You can also prune the tree when it's dormant.

Growing Southern Live Oaks

One of the most appealing features of live oaks is their adaptability. They are not very sensitive to soil pH and can grow in both acidic and alkaline conditions. While average moisture is best for Southern live oaks, they can survive drought and excess moisture. These trees are also tolerant of salt spray, making them ideal for areas along the coast. Southern live oaks are happiest when they receive at least four hours of unfiltered sun a day, says the Arbor Day Foundation.

In addition to oak wilt, canker diseases can also affect Southern live oaks. When these diseases are present, the solution is to prune out the infected branches to keep the pathogens from spreading. Other conditions that affect live oaks include fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew and galls caused by insect activity. While these problems may be unsightly, they do little harm to the health of the tree and don't require control methods.

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Southern Live Oak
  • Arbor Day Foundation: Live Oak
  • Clemson University Extension: Live Oak
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Quercus virginiana

Tips

  • Clean and disinfect pruning tools with a solution of nine parts water and one part household bleach to prevent infecting the tree with disease.
  • Hire a professional tree pruning company for live oak trees with tall branches that you are unable to reach safely. Never use use a ladder on an uneven or unsteady surface to prevent injury. Avoid trimming branches that are near or overhang electrical wires.

Writer Bio

Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.

90,000 when and how can I cut the oak

Content

  • The role of an oak in landscaping
  • The role of trimming in the formation of the crown
  • ,
  • Cunning of the Austrian oak
  • Cunning a stone
  • Acts of actions
  • When they proceed to pruning?
  • Sanitary pruning
  • Recommendations for beginners

Oak is a majestic and magnificent tree, a symbol of solidity and durability. The ancient Roman scientist Pliny considered centuries-old oaks a wonder of the world and believed that they appeared simultaneously with the emergence of the universe.

In nature, you can see about 600 species of this plant, among which there are both evergreen and deciduous. Basically, these are trees 20-30 meters high, less often 50 meters. Some species are shrubs, among which there are very small ones, no higher than two or three meters. Oaks adapt well to different environmental conditions, some species can withstand frosts down to -60C. In Western Europe and central Russia, pedunculate oak is most common, and, for example, in North America, the species composition is more diverse.

The role of oak in landscaping

Most of them grow slowly, in addition to the main trunk there is a spreading crown, which is a heavy skeletal branches and many small branches covered with dense foliage. To maintain an aesthetic appearance, the crown of each oak must be cut. This, seemingly simple at first glance, must be done carefully so as not to spoil the landscape composition and not harm the plant.

Where natural conditions favor the growth of oak trees, there are quite a lot of them in forest parks and large parks. Separately growing trees, the tree looks wide, its trunk is not high, and the crown is spreading. Most often they are planted next to coniferous trees.

If this is a planting and a lot of trees are planted, then the oaks will be tall, straight and slender.

The role of pruning in the formation of the crown

Throughout the life of the plant, intensive growth of the main stem can be observed. Apical growth occurs much faster than lateral shoots, so oak belongs to plants with monopodial branching.

Regardless of the species, the ever-growing trunk of the plant will be strong and straight, but it may not be alone. A randomly growing crown will give the plant an untidy look, so it needs to be shaped, that is, to limit the growth of branches. To do this, oak branches need to be cut in a timely manner, they do it every two to three years, using different methods.

To slow upward growth, remove the apical bud (remove the tip of the shoot), shorten or cut out the branches or shoot. Some gardeners make the mistake of believing that it is enough to trim only the growth. Such a procedure will lead to the fact that the branching will be even more intense, which means that the thickening will increase. In order for the crown to look openwork, it is better to remove part of the growth, and sometimes entire branches, this should be done without sparing, since as a result it will be possible for sunlight to enter the crown.

Pruning of crowns of oaks of different types has a number of minor differences.

Austrian oak pruning

Austrian oak is a deciduous tree with a domed crown. Crown pruning is done while the plant is at rest. The best time for this is autumn - spring.

This procedure is carried out according to the requirements for stem trees, which must have a main trunk, the stem should be about 2.5 m high. In countries with short and cool summers, the apical shoot will not be characterized by accelerated growth, as a result, the plant will look like a bush.

The first three to five years, the trunk is cleared of the lower shoots, but the branches are shortened gradually, this will take 2-3 years. Pruning formed trees is to remove dead shoots, this should be done regularly. If you still have little experience in pruning, it is better to entrust this matter to professionals. In order to properly carry out anti-aging pruning and remove excess branches from the crown, knowledge and skill are needed.

Holm oak pruning

Holm oak is an unusually beautiful plant. It has a wide rounded dense crown and dark glossy leaves. The shape of the crown, especially in young trees, is different - both drooping and columnar, but, most often, an intermediate option. Young representatives of this species resemble a bush; over the years, the trunk becomes clearer. The tree needs regular shearing, planting such oak trees you can get a magnificent hedge, you can grow one tree, if you form a crown in a timely manner, it will be large from the middle to the end of summer.

Pruning requirements are the same as for stemless trees, the lower branches in the shade tend to fall off. The main shoot will not remain dominant for long, but you should not rush to remove the side ones, gradually they will take over the functions of the skeletal ones. In old oaks, the crown is asymmetric, but your attempts to restore harmony may be in vain, young shoots are unlikely to appear in empty places. Mature oaks are pruned only in emergency cases, for example, if the branch is broken by the wind, but it is better to entrust this to an experienced specialist.

Very often, out of ignorance, small, beautiful hanging branches are cut, this does not have the best effect on the appearance of the oak, therefore, it is necessary to make a decision on raising the crown only after consulting with a specialist.

Algorithm of actions

As we have already said, a neglected tree not only looks untidy, but can also become a hotbed for the spread of a dangerous infection that poses a threat to other trees. That's why it's so important to trim in a timely manner. With the right tool and knowledge of the algorithm of actions, you can easily cope with the task.

  1. Specify the type of oak and ask when is the best time to cut it. Pruning times can be adjusted to suit the weather conditions in your area.
  2. With a sharp instrument, make cuts on the lower parts of the branches at a distance of 30-60 cm from the main trunk.
  3. Make cuts on the upper parts of the branches 7-10 cm above the first ones. This will keep the bark intact.
  4. It is necessary to remove undeveloped, damaged and dry branches. Cut as close to the trunk as possible to minimize knots. The cut points are treated with sealants; black paint can be used as a sealant.

When do you start pruning?

The best time for this is the end of winter and the beginning of spring, but, as we have already noticed, different species have their own characteristics. In areas with a warm climate, where winters are not very cold, pruning is also done in winter, but the air temperature on this day should not be lower than -5C. If this requirement is not observed, then part of the bark and wood in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe cut may be frostbite. No less careful should be pruned in the summer. Pruning should not be too intense.

Sanitary pruning

Mid-February or mid-April is the best time for sanitary pruning of oak trees. Cut off dry, unhealthy, damaged branches, and those that grow towards the center of the crown. You can also do this from July to August.

Beginner's advice

  • The chainsaw is most commonly used for pruning. Keep safety in mind, and if you are handling it for the first time, consult an experienced gardener on its use.
  • Do not cut thick old branches without the help of a professional or alone, there is a high risk of injury.
  • Oak is a tall tree, so experts do not recommend standing on the stairs while working, it is better, for reliability, to fix yourself to the trunk with seat belts.
  • If you consider pruning unnecessary, long branches will grow uncontrollably, they will show wounds from neighboring branches and knots rubbing against branches from gusts of wind. The wounds will develop an infection. What will affect the health of the tree is not the best way.
  • Take care of your own safety before starting work. Wear a hard hat or headgear that can protect your head. Any protective clothing with long sleeves is suitable - a work suit, overalls, a dressing gown and even a shirt.

When and how to prune oak

Oak is a majestic and magnificent tree, a symbol of solidity and durability. The ancient Roman scientist Pliny considered centuries-old oaks a wonder of the world and believed that they appeared simultaneously with the emergence of the universe.

In nature, you can see about 600 species of this plant, among which there are both evergreen and deciduous. Basically, these are trees 20-30 meters high, less often 50 meters. Some species are shrubs, among which there are very small ones, no higher than two or three meters. Oaks adapt well to different environmental conditions, some species can withstand frosts down to -60C. In Western Europe and central Russia, pedunculate oak is most common, and, for example, in North America, the species composition is more diverse.

Content of Article

  • 1 The role of an oak in landscaping
  • 2 The role of trimming in the formation of Cro'ct
  • 3 Austrian oak trim
  • 4 Classes of the stone
  • 5 Acts of actions
  • 6 When they proceed to pruning?
  • 7 Sanitary pruning
  • 8 Recommendations for beginners

The role of oak in landscaping

Most of them grow slowly, in addition to the main trunk there is a spreading crown, which is a heavy skeletal branches and many small branches covered with dense foliage. To maintain an aesthetic appearance, the crown of each oak must be cut. This, seemingly simple at first glance, must be done carefully so as not to spoil the landscape composition and not harm the plant.

Where natural conditions favor the growth of oak trees, there are quite a lot of them in forest parks and large parks. Separately growing trees, the tree looks wide, its trunk is not high, and the crown is spreading. Most often they are planted next to coniferous trees.

If this is a planting and a lot of trees are planted, then the oaks will be tall, straight and slender.

The role of pruning in the formation of the crown

Throughout the life of the plant, intensive growth of the main stem can be observed. Apical growth occurs much faster than lateral shoots, so oak belongs to plants with monopodial branching.

Regardless of the species, the ever-growing trunk of a plant will be strong and straight, but it may not be alone. A randomly growing crown will give the plant an untidy look, so it needs to be shaped, that is, to limit the growth of branches. To do this, oak branches need to be cut in a timely manner, they do it every two to three years, using different methods.

To slow upward growth, remove the apical bud (remove the tip of the shoot), shorten or cut out the branches or shoot. Some gardeners make the mistake of believing that it is enough to trim only the growth. Such a procedure will lead to the fact that the branching will be even more intense, which means that the thickening will increase. In order for the crown to look openwork, it is better to remove part of the growth, and sometimes entire branches, this should be done without sparing, since as a result it will be possible for sunlight to enter the crown.

Pruning of crowns of oaks of different types has a number of minor differences.

Austrian oak pruning

Austrian oak is a deciduous tree with a domed crown. Crown pruning is done while the plant is at rest. The best time for this is autumn - spring.

This procedure is carried out according to the requirements for stem trees, which must have a main trunk, the stem should be about 2.5 m high. In countries with short and cool summers, the apical shoot will not be characterized by accelerated growth, as a result, the plant will look like a bush.

The first three to five years, the trunk is cleared of the lower shoots, but the branches are shortened gradually, this will take 2-3 years. Pruning formed trees is to remove dead shoots, this should be done regularly. If you still have little experience in pruning, it is better to entrust this matter to professionals. In order to properly carry out anti-aging pruning and remove excess branches from the crown, knowledge and skill are needed.

Holm oak pruning

Holm oak is an unusually beautiful plant. It has a wide rounded dense crown and dark glossy leaves. The shape of the crown, especially in young trees, is different - both drooping and columnar, but, most often, an intermediate option. Young representatives of this species resemble a bush; over the years, the trunk becomes clearer. The tree needs regular shearing, planting such oak trees you can get a magnificent hedge, you can grow one tree, if you form a crown in a timely manner, it will be large from the middle to the end of summer.

Pruning requirements are the same as for stemless trees, the lower branches in the shade tend to fall off. The main shoot will not remain dominant for long, but you should not rush to remove the side ones, gradually they will take over the functions of the skeletal ones. In old oaks, the crown is asymmetric, but your attempts to restore harmony may be in vain, young shoots are unlikely to appear in empty places. Mature oaks are pruned only in emergency cases, for example, if the branch is broken by the wind, but it is better to entrust this to an experienced specialist.

Very often, out of ignorance, small, beautiful hanging branches are cut, this does not have the best effect on the appearance of the oak, therefore, it is necessary to make a decision on raising the crown only after consulting with a specialist.

Algorithm of actions

As we have already said, a neglected tree not only looks untidy, but can also become a hotbed for the spread of a dangerous infection that poses a threat to other trees. That's why it's so important to trim in a timely manner. With the right tool and knowledge of the algorithm of actions, you can easily cope with the task.

  1. Specify the type of oak and ask when is the best time to cut it. Pruning times can be adjusted to suit the weather conditions in your area.
  2. With a sharp instrument, make cuts on the lower parts of the branches at a distance of 30-60 cm from the main trunk.
  3. Make cuts on the upper parts of the branches 7-10 cm above the first ones. This will keep the bark intact.
  4. It is necessary to remove undeveloped, damaged and dry branches. Cut as close to the trunk as possible to minimize knots. The cut points are treated with sealants; black paint can be used as a sealant.

When do you start pruning?

The best time for this is the end of winter and the beginning of spring, but, as we have already noticed, different species have their own characteristics. In areas with a warm climate, where winters are not very cold, pruning is also done in winter, but the air temperature on this day should not be lower than -5C. If this requirement is not observed, then part of the bark and wood in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe cut may be frostbite. No less careful should be pruned in the summer. Pruning should not be too intense.

Sanitary pruning

Mid-February or mid-April is the best time for sanitary pruning of oak trees. Cut off dry, unhealthy, damaged branches, and those that grow towards the center of the crown. You can also do this from July to August.

Beginner's advice