How to Prune a Live Oak Tree

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Things You'll Need

  • Pruning saw

  • Non-phototoxic wound sealer or black spray paint

Live oaks are majestic trees that rise to heights of 80 to 100 feet. They are native in the southern United States along the coast from southern Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. They grow quickly when young and can live for hundreds of years. They're called "live oaks" because their leaves stay green during winter when other deciduous trees have bare branches. You can prune a live oak tree yourself, but prune sparingly. They generally don't need a lot of pruning and are slow to recover if pruned excessively.


Step 1

Remove any diseased or dead branches. Cut off flush with the trunk.

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Step 2

Prune out any branches that rub against another branch where they cross. Prune out any branches that brush up against a structure such as a roof or building. Make the cuts flush with the trunk or larger branch.


Step 3

Remove all smaller lower branches. This will help push growth to the upper branches which enhances the tree's health.

Step 4

Remove any branches that are growing strictly vertically. Live oaks have a spreading habit and their structure is made up of horizontally orientated branches.

Step 5

Seal all cuts with a non-phototoxic wound sealer or black spray paint as soon as possible.


Avoid excessive pruning of live oaks; you can jeopardize their health and future growth.


Do not prune from April through July to prevent the spread of oak wilt.


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