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Oak Tree Trimming Guide

By RJ Laverne ; Updated September 21, 2017

Trimming an oak tree really isn't all that different from trimming any other type of plant or tree. Get an oak tree trimming guide with help from a professional with the Davey Tree Expert Company in this free video clip.

Transcript

Hello. I'm R. J. Laverne with the Davey Tree Expert Company. And today we're going to be talking about properly pruning this oak tree. Now pruning an oak tree is not really much different than pruning a maple tree or a birch tree or most other trees that have leaves. But there's a few simple rules to follow that will give us the proper pruning cut and allow this tree to live happily ever after. But before we get into putting saws to wood let's talk a little bit about safety. Today since I'm going to be working underneath the canopy of a tree I'm going to wear my hard hat. That's in case anything drops off I won't get conked on the noggin and I'll be able to work safely. Next I'm going to wear my safety glasses. This is very important especially when you're using a saw. Chips of wood will fly out, pieces of bark will fly at you and wearing good safety glasses will protect your eyes. And next you'll notice that I'm working today with a good sturdy pair of leather gloves. I'm going to be using a hand saw today and it's quite sharp. We need it to be sharp in order to make the proper cuts. But one accidental pull across my skin could turn an otherwise productive day in to an unfortunate trip to the emergency room. So whenever you're making good cuts make sure that you're wearing the proper protective equipment. You'll also notice that I am not using a chain saw today. The branch that I'm removing is only about an inch and three quarters thick. There's no need for power tools today. And even if this were a larger branch I certainly would not use a chain saw to cut over my shoulders. So all of the cuts today we're going to use a hand saw. If you encounter on your oak tree a larger branch that needs to be removed or a branch that's higher up in the tree crown, make sure that you call a qualified professional arborist and they'll safely do the pruning for you. There's a couple of features that we're going to look for on this tree that will help us decide where we want to make the pruning cut. On the top of this branch, and this is the branch that we'll be removing, on the top of this branch is a saddle of sap. And you can see it from either side of the branch attachment. And that's called the branch bark ridge. That is the area where the bark from the trunk and the bark from the branch meet. And the bark layers are being pushed up and outside of that branch union. We're going to use that to help us locate the cut. You'll also notice that at the base of this branch there's a swollen area. That's the area where the wood tissue from the trunk overlaps with the wood tissue from the branch. Now we don't want to cut into the wood tissue from the trunk because it's going to be that wood tissue that grows need wood and covers up the pruning wood that we're about to make. So our pruning cut will want to be not flush with the trunk but rather at the base of the branch and outside of this swollen area that's the branch collar. And that's the line that we'll use to make our pruning cut. Now I could take my pruning saw and just start to cut in that area and make one cut. But chances are the weight from the foliage on this limb would tear the bark off when I got about three quarters of the way through my cut and that would leave damage to the trunk that's unnecessary. So instead of doing that we're going to use a three cut system that will first relieve the weight from the branch and then we'll take off the remaining branch stub without doing excessive damage to the trunk. First I will make a cut on the underside of the branch, about a quarter of the distance through. That's going to relieve the compression tension on the bottom of this branch. Next I'll make a cut from the top side of the branch and that will remove the hanging branch and remove the weight. OK. Find the branch bark ridge and make sure my final cut is outside of those two features. So let's go ahead and make that cut now. And as I get to the bottom I'm going to work my way slowly and make sure that I've got the perfect clean cut. And there we go. And as you can see it's a nice clean cut outside of the branch collar and in two or three years that wound will be closed over by the new wood tissue formed by the trunk. That's about as difficult as it gets to pruning this oak tree. Don't forget, wear the proper protective equipment, use the three step approach to making your final cut and work safe every time. Thanks for joining us today. We'll see you next time.

 

About the Author

Davey expert and urban forester, RJ Laverne, knows that trees matter.