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How to Cut Oak Trees

By Leigh Walker ; Updated September 21, 2017
Oak tree.
oak tree image by Zlatko Ivancok from Fotolia.com

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.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning scissors or hand-held pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Chain saw
  • Wound sealer or black spray paint


  • 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.

About the Author


Leigh Walker has been working as a writer since 1995. She serves as a ghostwriter for many online clients creating website content, e-books and newsletters. She works as a title flagger and writer for Demand Studios, primarily writing home and garden pieces for GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. Walker pursued an English major/psychology minor at Pellissippi State.