Oak Tree Trimming: When, Why, and How to Do It

Oak Tree Trimming: When, Why, and How to Do It

A simple guide to trimming your oak and keeping your tree healthy and thriving. 

Unless you are an arborist, the thought of trimming the oak tree in your yard could be daunting. How to start, what to look for, and what could go wrong are just a few of the questions you may have.

Worrying about your safety and the health and safety of your tree is common and appropriate. An untrained trimmer could cause irreparable damage during the oak tree trimming.

This guide can help you understand what makes an oak tree special, as well as the when’s, why’s, and how-to’s, to make your oak tree the envy of the neighborhood.

What is an Oak Tree?

To start, get to know your tree a little. What is referred to as the common oak tree, is actually a member of the beech family, Fagaceae.

One of over 600 varieties worldwide in fact. They prefer a northern temperate zone. Though in the tropics they can be found at high altitudes.

Frequently a mature oak can grow as much as 30-40 meters. With a spread diameter anywhere from 25-45 meters.

If properly maintained, a simple oak tree can live for 100-300 years. And produce about 10 million acorns during its lifetime.

All the more reason to keep your oak tree healthy and strong.

Why Trim an Oak Tree?

A wild, unkempt oak tree can cause a property owner a myriad of problems. Dead and diseased branches are in constant danger of falling off.

Dead branches can cause immense structural and personal damage if allowed to fall on their own accord.

Deviating from a regular trimming schedule can leave your tree more susceptible to common oak diseases such as oak wilt. Something as seemingly small as allowing the branches to grow so long as to overshadow or scrape against your house can be dangerous.

More than keeping the danger and disease at bay, regularly trimming your oak tree enhances its growth. Pruning a mature tree also improves the overall structural health of the tree.

By allowing for more air to circulate among the branches, it can help slow or reduce certain leaf diseases as well.

The more sun filtering between the leaves, the more beaming down to your lawn. Giving you a fuller more vibrate yard.

Ensuring your oak tree is properly trimmed positively affects the health of your entire landscape.

When to Trim Your Oak Tree

Unlike other types of trees, you’ll want to prune your oak in mid-winter or January through April. Your oak tree will be hibernating, and won’t begin to notice the cut until springtime.

By springtime, your oak will be in a better position to heal from the cut of the pruning process. Cutting in winter also reduces the chance that pests or oak wilt could take hold of your tree through the open wounds.

Pruning wounds are in fact quite vulnerable to attacks. Use either latex paint or a special non-asphalt sealant to protect your oak.

If you see dead branches sometime throughout the year, go ahead and trim them. It could be dangerous or costly to let weak, dead branches linger.

The sealant on the open wounds will be even more important in the late spring or summer months as that is when insects are more dominant. Buzzing insects not only cause the fungal disease oak wilt, but they are capable of transferring it from tree to tree.

This could very quickly become a painful and potentially costly mistake.

How to Trim an Oak Tree

As long as the job is a simple pruning process, it should be easily accomplished by the property or homeowner.

First, you must gather the following tools;

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Pruning sealant
  • Safety goggles
  • Hardhat
  • Chainsaw
  • Pole pruner
  • Limb saw/bucksaw
  • Rope saw
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning shears

Second, the equipment blades must be cleaned. Mix one part bleach with nine parts water to wash and rinse the pole pruner, saws, and shears with.

Allow them to fully dry before use. Keep the solution for disinfection purposes between trees.

The third step is to decide which branches you will be cutting. This depends on the age of the tree you are pruning.

If your oak is fairly young, between 3-5 years, then only broken or dead branches need to be trimmed. A more mature tree should also have any branches that are growing towards the tree’s center removed.

When it is the first time pruning a younger tree, you will need to establish a dominant branch.  This will be the strongest and centermost branch.

Before you make those first cuts, identify the branch collar. A swollen portion of a branch found near the trunk.

Now it is time for step four, cutting your first branch. Depending on the thickness of your branch, use either the shears or saw, whichever is appropriate.

Make your first cut 18″ away from the branch collar, stopping mid-way through the branch. Staying on the top side, make your second cut 1″ away from the first towards the branch tip.

Keep cutting until the main portion of the branch falls from the tree. Your third cut will remove the rest of the branch at the branch collar.

The Dangers of Oak Tree Trimming Alone

Ideally, you will want to be going through the pruning process yearly. Keeping up on large splits and monitoring the dominant branch, trimming as needed so it continues to be the strongest and healthiest.

Also, you will need to periodically check for white, flaking, scaly bark that could be an early indicator of pests. Obviously properly caring for the wellness of your oak tree can be a full-time job.

Oaktree trimming can also be dangerous and one needs to take the proper precautions. In fact, from 2009-2013, there were 408 tree care fatalities.

Oak trees that are near powerlines, over water, or rooted in some particularly uneven ground may pose more of a hassle than they’re worth dealing with on your own.

Arborists go through many years of training, even requiring degrees or certifications in some cases. Why run the risk of harming your yard, yourself, or others?

If you have questions about oak tree trimming, get the professional answers you deserve. Don’t risk it, schedule a consultation with Aquatic Consulting, Inc today.

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