How to Trim Live Oak Trees


Live oak trees can live for 80 to 100 years. They can reach heights of 40 to 100 feet and have spreads of 60 to 100 feet. They require trimming, but in moderation. If you have a live oak that needs excessive trimming, you should spread it over two seasons to give the tree time to recover. All cuts to the tree should be made flush to the trunk or the major branch from which it grows.

Step 1

Plan to trim your live oak in the fall or winter. Avoid pruning during the spring and summer, as fresh cuts can attract pests that spread fungus.

Step 2

Gather the tools you will need. You will need pruning scissors, or hand-held pruners, to trim small branches. Branches 2 to 3 inches in diameter will require a pruning saw. Branches larger than 4 inches will require the use of a chain saw.

Step 3

Cut and remove any branches that could pose a health risk. This includes any branches growing too low to the ground, as well as dying, unhealthy or weak branches that could break and fall.

Step 4

Trim and remove any branches that rub against each other or against buildings or other structures. The rubbing can damage the bark and become an entry point for disease or pest and insect infestation.

Step 5

Cut and remove suckers growing out of the tree's trunk or growing from the roots of the tree. Identify suckers by their lack of bark. They will have smooth skin.

Step 6

Remove any branches growing downward or straight up.

Step 7

Trim for aesthetic reasons last. These cuts should shape the tree and give it a more healthy and uniform shape.

Step 8

Seal the cuts you have made with a wound sealer or black spray paint.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your live oak requires trimming due to it touching or being close to power lines, bring a professional in to do the work. If your tree needs excessive pruning of very large branches, consider bringing in an arborist or other tree trimming specialist to do the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning scissors or hand-held pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Chain saw
  • Wound sealer or black spray paint


  • Scenic Hills Nursery: How to Prune Trees
  • Wynnrock: Oak Tree Pruning Practices
  • Texas Forest Service: Guidelines for Proper Pruning to Prevent Oak Wilt Infection

Who Can Help

  • School of Resources and Conservation: Live Oak
Keywords: trim live oak, prune live oak, cutting live oak

About this Author

Joyce Maxwell is a writer and editor for print and online markets. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English with a psychology minor at a southern university. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, as well as being picked up by health and education groups. Maxwell is a writer and title flagger for Demand Studios.