The white oak or Quercus alba is a large deciduous tree with an irregular wide spread crown. A mature white oak can reach a height of 100 feet and a spread of 50 to 80 feet. It is hardy in zones 5 to 9 and will do well in full sun or partial shade. The well-pruned white oak makes a wonderful specimen or shade tree.
Prune any damaged or diseased branch as soon as you can by making a clean cut at the breaking point or by cutting off the entire branch. Clean cuts are required so that the plant can heal correctly. Dead or diseased branches can be pruned at any time of the year.
Look at your tree from all angles and decide what branches to prune to maintain size or to ensure safety. Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Prune right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar,. You do not want to leave a stub. Be careful not to cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge, this must be maintained for the health of the tree. Pruning should be done in winter or early spring when the tree is still in a dormant state.
Determine if you need to remove deadwood from the crown of the tree by making a visual inspection. The removal of dead twigs, branches, and limbs is referred to as thinning, and it is generally done by a professional tree service. They are well versed in what branches to but in order maintain the integrity and appearance of the tree.