How to Prune Sawtooth Oak

Overview

The swamp Sawtooth oak or Quercus acutissima is an attractive deciduous, fast growing shade tree with dark green foliage that gives way to yellow/golden brown leaves in the fall. A mature tree can reach a height of between 40 to 60 feet with a spread of 40 to 60 feet. It has a pyramidal shape and is hardy to zones 5 to 9. Pruning consists of the removal of dead, diseased, or damaged branches, maintaining size (width) within your landscape, providing safety (keeping branches away from buildings, walkways, and roofs) and removing deadwood from the crown of the tree.

Step 1

Cut away any damaged or diseased branches immediately. You will make your cut at the breaking point, or you can cut off the entire branch or limb. A clean cut is required so that the wound can heal properly. This pruning procedure may be done at any time of the year.

Step 2

Visually inspect your tree from all angles to determine if you need to prune any branches to maintain size or to insure safety. Find the branch collar (on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) of the branch that you are going to cut off.

Step 3

Prune off the branch just in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar, being sure not to leave a stub. Also care should be taken not to cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge (to maintain the health, appearance, and integrity of the tree). This procedure should be done when the tree is dormant, which is in winter or early spring.

Step 4

Examine the crown of the sawtooth oak. Look for deadwood (dead twigs, branches, or limbs), as these will need to be removed from the crown of the tree. The removal of deadwood is referred to as "thinning" of the crown. Due to the heights of mature trees, this procedure is normally done by a professional tree service. Not only are they accustomed to working at tall heights, but they know what limbs and branches can be cut without damaging the appearance and health of the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not prune a tree that is close to electrical wires; this should be left up to the electric company. Do not try to cut down large, heavy limbs as they can cause personal property damage or even personal injury when they fall. Instead call a professional tree service.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw

References

  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Arbor Day Foundation
  • Boyd Nursery Company
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About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.