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Landscape Ideas: Pruning Your Oak Trees

By Maria Bargellini of Dallas Curb Appeal

Question: When do we Prune our Oak Trees in Texas

Answer: Winter is best. Avoid any pruning from February 1 through June 15th.

The best time to prune your oaks, especially Live Oaks and Red Oaks, is in late winter when they are dormant of less susceptible to insect and other forms of attacks. According to Texas Forest Service, the riskiest time to trim Oaks is from February 1st-June 15th. Pruning at the appropriate times will help you avoid the chance of your trees contracting Oak Wilt disease, which will not only kill your tree but has the potential to spread to neighboring Oaks and slowly kill them as well. Dead branches and branches under 2 inches in diameter are OK to trimmed throughout the year as necessary.

Question: Why Prune? Do I have to prune every year?

Answer: Only when necessary, and no, you do not.

There are a lot of things that have to be done in your landscape that require a schedule. Trees pruning and tree care are specific to your type and the conditions of your tree. Flowering types are not to be trimmed at the same time as evergreens as you will undoubtedly cut off all of next seasons blooms. Trees should be trimmed only when they need to be. What does that mean? Glad you asked. The pruning of branches create wounds in the tree that take years to heal. The bigger the cut or wound the more attractive the tree will be to insects as they see it as a sign of distress. One of the main reason Feb 1-June 15th is ideal is that it is when our insects aren’t in full force, searching for stressed trees.

You should only prune:

  • Dead branches
  • Branches that are over pedestrians or vehicles
  • Limbs that are rubbing against each other
  • Branches growing in the wrong direction

Dead branches: There’s no way of telling when a dead branch will fall or who it will fall on. It’s safe to say that at some point it will fall and it’s best for you to control the when and where.

Vehicles and Pedestrians: These are branches that hang too low and need to be cleared for the public right of way. And yes even if the trees is on the parkway, and technically owned by the city you are responsible for the trees maintenance as well as grass. Check with your local ordinances but for the most part you should have at least 8′ clearance over sidewalks and 10-15 over any vehicle crossing, such as a driveway or the street. There have been many a delivery or furniture truck that has met with the limbs of offending trees. By the way–the truck always wins that battle.

Rubbing: Limbs or branches that rub together whether naturally or from wind, will create a wound on 1 or both of the branches. This wounds emits a scent that allow insects to locate and attack it. Some limbs will actually even grow into each other to form one ugly branch.

Wrong direction: Branches that will are heading toward your gutters, windows, other trees, etc are best cut when they are young, under 2 inches. Smaller wounds are much easier are the tree and it is inevitable that they will be needing to be cut later so don’t procrastinate. It’s much better and even cheaper to do it early.

Dallas Curb Appeal also owns and operates DFW Christmas Lights and The Outdoor Lighting Expert. For more information on this or any other topic please feel free to comment below or visit our other sites for holiday and lighting topics.

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