How and when can I prune my live oak trees?
One of my favorite gardening and holiday traditions is the annual live oak pruning at my family’s house. The trees are over 30 years old now, and we’ve been pruning them many years.
If you have a live oak, you’ll know that they are prolific branch producers. And many of those branches will be heavy with lots of side branches, weighing the tree down and decreasing air circulation in the canopy.
In nature, live oaks grow very close together, and so prolific branching is often a competitive advantage.
But in a landscape, where your live oak hopefully has plenty of room to grow and spread, this habit can be annoying at best, and unhealthy for the tree, at worst. Heavy branches droop down, even touching the ground in some cases, and can break more easily. But if you’ll selectively prune the tree, you can remove that weight, and give the other branches the space they need to grow.
When I returned home every year for the Christmas holiday, we spent a day out pruning. My dad was up on the ladder with the pruning saw and I was down on the ground, pointing out each limb to cut and then running back and forth across the street to get a wider view after each limb dropped. My mom was responsible for taking photos and directing traffic, while my nephew dragged all of the limbs to the back yard to my brother, who was manning the chipper shredder.
To help prevent oak wilt disease, prune from late November to February 1st. Paint all wounds and disinfect tools between cuts.