How to Prune Oak Trees


Pruning your oak tree may periodically be necessary, especially if the tree is not fully grown and has damage from winter storms. Oaks can grow very large, and can sometimes have branches that either obscure your view or that block walkways or driveways. To avoid oak wilt you should not prune your tree during April, May or June. Pruning young oak trees or smaller trees is not difficult. However, if your tree is very large and you want to remove a very large branch, call a professional. Removing large branches can be tricky and dangerous.

Step 1

Remove any dead, dying or diseased branches by cutting them with pruning shears (for branches smaller than about 1/2 inch) or a pruning saw.

Step 2

To remove a branch with a pruning saw, cut through the bottom two-thirds of the branch. Leave a top strip to hold the branch in place. Cut slowly through the top strip until the branch drops. Cutting through the branch mostly from the bottom will reduce problems with tearing and splitting on medium and larger branches. For some branches, make an initial two-pass cut about a foot from the trunk to remove the weight before removing the 1-foot stub of the branch.

Step 3

Remove newer growth from the lower one-third of the tree to encourage healthy growth in the tree's crown.

Step 4

Remove branches at the branch collar. The branch collar is the stub of bark that sticks out from the trunk. Do not remove the branch collar.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saws
  • Ladder
  • Wound dressing (optional)


  • Scenic Hills Nursery: How to Prune Trees
  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: oak pruning, tree care, tree pruning

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.