Live oak (Quecrus virginiana) is a large, long-lived tree with branches that bend and twist. Properly trimmed live oaks have better shape and structure than those that are not trimmed, and they live longer with fewer problems.
Remove dead or diseased limbs any time. Just before the tree begins putting on new leaves in late winter or early spring is the best time for maintenance pruning. Winter pruning can shock the tree, and late summer and fall cuts may not have time to heal before winter sets in.
According to the University of Florida Extension, you should prune live oaks yearly for the first three years. Afterward, prune every five years until the tree is 30 years old. This pruning schedule helps the tree develop a strong branch structure.
Oak Wilt Disease
If oak wilt disease is a problem in your area, take special care when pruning. Oak wilt disease is a fatal disease usually spread by beetles. According to the Texas Forest Service, in early spring the beetles that spread the disease become active, and exposed cuts are vulnerable. Delay pruning until midsummer when the insects are less active, and treat cuts with pruning paint. Oak wilt disease also spreads through infected pruning tools, so disinfect your tools between cuts.
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