How to Prune Northern Pin Oak


Northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) is also called jack oak and hill's oak. The tree grows in dry, sandy soil through several parts of the country including Iowa, the Ontario-Minnesota border country, northern Illinois and Indiana and northwestern Ohio. Acorns are produced every other year. Pruning northern pin oak when it's young will produce a strong structure. As it matures, the purpose of pruning is to maintain the tree structure, health, form and appearance.

Step 1

Consider the spherical form of the northern pin oak. This means it has many lateral branches that may compete for dominance. Take this into account because if you try to make the tree into an unnatural form, you'll have to do continual maintenance to keep it that way.

Step 2

Use shears to cut the smaller, thinner branches. For thicker, more mature branches, use a chainsaw or other pruning equipment.

Step 3

Plan to make cuts at the node, which is where one twig or branch meets another. Each spring, growth will start with buds and twigs grow until there is a new node.

Step 4

Thin the crown in order to increase the amount of light and air that gets to the tree. During this process, you will develop and maintain the tree's form and structure. Do not remove more than one-quarter of the crown at a time or you may cause stress and excessive production of epicormic sprouts.

Step 5

Keep all branches that are attached with strong U-shaped joints. Remove those branches with narrow, V-shaped connections because they are weaker and are likely already cracked.

Step 6

Achieve crown raising by removing all the branches that are facing downward, at the bottom of the northern pin oak. This will provide clearance for pedestrians, traffic and lines of site. The tree will also have a neater appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Chain saw or pruning equipment
  • Shears


  • Forest Resources Extension
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Keywords: Northern pin oak, prune, tree

About this Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.