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How to Cut Oak Trees

oak tree image by Zlatko Ivancok from

Oak trees can reach spreads and heights of 40 to 100 feet. They do require cutting for both health and aesthetic purposes. Because extensive trimming can make oak trees weak and susceptible to pests and disease, cutting should be extended over two seasons to give the tree time to strengthen. Property owners can successfully trim their own oak trees. However, if the tree is in close proximity to power lines, it is best to call a professional. The best time to cut oak trees is in the late fall or winter.

Gather pruning scissors for small branches. Use a pruning saw for branches that are up to 3 inches in diameter; use a chain saw for branches that are 4 inches or more in diameter.

Begin by cutting off branches that are unhealthy, weak, dead or hanging too close to the ground. Make all cuts flush with the tree’s trunk or the branch from which it grows.

Cut off any branches that rub against buildings, structures or other branches.

Cut and remove any branches that grow straight up or straight down.

Cut any suckers that are growing from the tree’s roots or trunk. Suckers will have smooth, bark-free skin.

Step back and observe the tree. Make any final cuts that are needed to make the tree more aesthetically pleasing.

Seal all the cuts with black spray paint or wound sealer.

Fastest Growing & Most Disease-resistant Oak Trees

Mexican white oak (Quercus polymorpha) is fast-growing, drought-tolerant and grows to 50 feet high and 35 feet wide. True Mexican white oak trees are disease resistant; hybrid varieties may have reduced resistance. This oak prefers full sun. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, the pin oak (Quercus palustris) will grow to 70 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Preferring full sun and acidic soil, the fast-growing pin oak develops a distinctive shape as it matures, with top branches reaching upward, lower branches pointing down, and center branches remaining horizontal. The spring leaves are yellowish in color, changing to a dark, glossy green over the summer and becoming bronze in the fall. The willow oak (Quercus phellos) thrives in hot and dry landscapes.


Consider bringing in a tree-trimming professional if your oak trees are very mature and large.


If you do not seal the cuts as directed, they can become an entry point for insects and disease.

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