How to Prune Overcup Oak


Overcup oak, also known as "bur oak," or as its scientific name, "quercus lyrata," is the state tree of Iowa, but grows throughout most of the eastern, central and southern United States. Overcup oak generally grows by itself rather than in a forest. If you have an overcup oak tree in your yard, it will not need much maintenance, but you can give it the occasional pruning when branches die, have been damaged or are too close to your home.

Step 1

Wear the proper pruning gear. When pruning the overcup oak, wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt, as well as gardening gloves to protect your skin from sharp branches.

Step 2

Prune overcup oak in the winter or early spring, before buds have formed on the branches. You do not need to prune the overcup oak every year--only prune if there has been damage to the tree or there appears to be dead branches.

Step 3

Cut any dead branches with pruning shears, being careful to leave a 1/4-inch nub on the end of each branch you cut. Do not cut flush with the trunk, or into the trunk, because it will create scarring on the tree.

Step 4

Climb onto a ladder to prune hard-to-reach branches, but have a partner hold the base of your ladder to hold it sturdy and prevent injury.

Step 5

Remove all branch clippings from the base of the trunk to promote better water absorption into the soil. You can discard old branch clippings or recycle them into mulch.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep pruning shears out of the reach of children.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Pants
  • Ladder


  • The Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains: Oak Trees
  • Ufl: Overcup Oak Trees
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Overcup Oak

Who Can Help

  • Grow Native: Overcup Oak
  • Backyard Gardener: Overcup Oak
Keywords: overcup oak, overcup oak tree, pruning overcup oak, prune overcup oak, prune oak tree

About this Author

Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.