How to Prune Northern Red Oak


Pruning northern red oak trees requires good knowledge of trees and their health. Young trees should be pruned just after planting while they are still dormant. Older trees should not be pruned in the spring or summer to avoid oak wilt.

Step 1

Use hand pruners to remove small stems and branches from the leader (main branch) of a young northern red oak. Cut branches a quarter inch above the bud. The bud should face the outside of the plant to force a new branch to grow outward.

Step 2

Use a pruning saw or pole pruners for large branches. Make three cuts in the branch to avoid tearing the bark. The first cut should be 18 inches from the trunk on the underside of the branch at a depth that is half way through the branch. Make the next cut 2 to 3 inches above the first, cutting until the branch falls to the ground. Locate the branch collar, a small swelling coming from the trunk of the tree, and cut the remainder of the branch.

Step 3

Apply latex wound sealant to prevent insect damage. Use the wood chipper to grind branches into mulch. This mulch can be added directly to garden beds or placed into a compost bin to breakdown and used in gardens. Clean pruners before using on the next tree to avoid transmitting possible diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Pole pruners
  • Wood chipper
  • Latex wound sealant


  • University of Michigan
  • United States Forestry Service
Keywords: Pruning trees, red oak, northern red oak

About this Author

Currently residing in Myrtle Beach, SC, Tammy Curry began writing agricultural and frugal living articles in 2004. Her articles have appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Farm Chronicle and Country Family Magazine. Ms. Curry has also written SEO articles for She holds an associate's degree in science from Jefferson College of Health Sciences.