How to Prune Live Oak Trees


Live oaks--so called because their leaves stay green all winter--are native to the coastal southern United States, from the coast of southern Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Live oaks can live for more than 100 years and can reach heights of 80 to 100 feet. Live oaks should be pruned sparingly. If large amounts of the tree need to be pruned, consider spreading the job out over two or more seasons. Live oaks can be pruned at any time of the year, but pruning in winter and early spring cause the least amount of stress to the trees.

Step 1

Remove all dead or diseased wood. Branches should be removed all the way back to the point at which they emerge from the trunk or from another major branch.

Step 2

Remove branches that are rubbing against each other. Such branches offer an entry point for insects or disease.

Step 3

Remove all branches that are growing across the crown of the tree. Doing so opens the crown, allowing in more light and allowing air to circulate more freely.

Step 4

Remove all branches that are growing downward and remove any suckers that are growing from the roots or growing out of the trunk. Suckers can be distinguished by their smooth skin rather than true bark.

Step 5

Remove branches that are growing straight up, except for the central trunk.

Step 6

Make all cuts flush with the trunk of the tree or flush with a major branch. Seal all cuts more than 1 inch in diameter with a sealing compound or black paint. This prevents certain beetles from entering the tree through the wounds and causing future problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Loppers
  • Tree wound sealer
  • Paint brush


  • Texas A&M: Proper Pruning Techniques
  • Wynnrock Estates: Oak Tree Pruning Practices
  • Scenic Hills Nursery: How to Prune a Tree
Keywords: prune oak trees, pruning live oak, trimming live oak

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.