Everything You Need to Know About Pruning Oak Trees and Oak Wilt

Find out everything you need to know about oak tree pruning and signs of oak wilt.

Oak trees are some of the most common trees across the Midwest, and it is important to understand how to prune your oak tree and how to watch for signs of oak wilt. Healthy oak trees will grow tall and wide. While this makes for a picturesque fall season, it can quickly harm the tree if not properly cared for. This winter, while your trees are dormant, is the perfect time to appropriately prune your oak trees to keep them nice and healthy for the springtime. 

How do you prune oak trees? 

Pruning is the process of selectively removing certain parts of a tree, such as branches, to improve its overall health or appearance. When done correctly, pruning oak trees can encourage new growth, help the tree resist disease and pests and improve its overall shape. 

Pruning oak trees is not difficult, but there are some important things to keep in mind to ensure you do not damage the tree:

  • Always use clean, sharp pruning tools.
  • Make sure to prune oak trees when they are dormant (usually in late winter). Pruning during this time will help prevent stress on the tree and encourage new growth in the spring. 
  • Sanitize your pruning tools. It is important to sanitize your pruning tools before and after use to prevent the spread of disease. You can sanitize your tools by wiping them down with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Our professionally trained arborists travel with mobile sanitization stations in their service vehicles.

When is the best time to prune oak trees? 

The best time to prune oak trees is in late winter when they are dormant, typically in late winter. If you prune your oak tree too early while it is still active, it can cause stress on the tree and discourage new growth in the spring. Tree pruning can happen throughout the year based on need but is recommended during their dormant season. If you must prune oak trees during the growing season, be sure to do so early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid stressing the tree. Oak trees typically need no more than 2-3 pruning per year. 

What are some common mistakes people make when pruning oak trees? 

Oak tree pruning is a delicate process that can very easily be done incorrectly and cause significant harm to your trees. We do not recommend attempting to prune your own trees given the potential damage to the tree and hazards that could harm you or your property. 

Our certified arborists are specially trained and experienced oak tree pruners. Contact us today to schedule your tree pruning. 

How long does it take for an oak tree to heal from pruning? 

Pruning cuts seal on their own. They typically take more than three weeks to complete the sealing process.However, it is important to avoid pruning oak trees during the growing season (April-August), as this can cause stress on the tree and delay healing. Arbor Masters specializes in wholistic plant health care including regularly scheduled tree pruning 

Can early pruning of oak trees cause oak wilt? 

While early pruning of oak trees will not directly cause oak wilt, pruning during March, April,  and May and June is nearly universally avoided because pruning during those months can leave the tree vulnerable to spread of oak wilt. Oak wilt is a fungal disease that affects oak trees and is spread by root grafting. It is important to note that oak wilt can be spread by pruning tools that are not properly sanitized. Therefore, it is important to clean and disinfect your pruning tools before and after use. 

 What does oak wilt look like on a tree? 

Oak wilt typically starts with leaves turning brown and wilting. This may start on just one branch, or it may affect the entire tree. Oak wilt can kill a tree within weeks, so it is important to contact an arborist if your oak tree is showing signs of wilting. 

 Can a tree recover from oak wilt? Can a tree with oak wilt be saved? 

Oak trees have a high chance of recovery if they are pruned early enough. However, if the tree is already infected with oak wilt, it will likely not recover. If you think your oak tree might be infected with oak wilt, contact a certified arborist for help. 

What can I expect from my arborist? 

When pruning oak trees, arborists will remove dead or diseased wood first. This will help improve the tree’s overall health and appearance. They will assess if they need to remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. This will help prevent damage to the bark and improve air circulation. Then, your arborist will prune oak trees to the desired shape. This will help the tree look its best and encourage new growth. 

 At Arbor Masters, trees trust us. We go above and beyond to provide top-notch plant health care in our community. Contact us today to learn more about oak tree pruning and other plant health services. 

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