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Guide to Pruning Oak Trees

All of us love strong, healthy, and beautiful plants, but do you know that to get attractive plants, pruning and training hold utmost importance, and oak is no different. This article will throw light on how to prune and train a live oak tree to help you get a healthy plant.

Learn How to Prune and Train a Live Oak Tree
trim oak
We prune trees to make them look attractive. Understanding of the basics of pruning can help you get a beautiful oak tree. Ornamental trees, such as oak, need additional care and caution during pruning, which helps increase the timber value and augment fruit and flower production. 

Necessity of Pruning Oak Tree
Pruning for health implies removal of insect-infested wood. It also involves tapering the crown in order to help aeration to reduce any type of pest problems. It is also the removal of crossing or bisecting branches. This is to ensure that proper growth of a strong tree structure, which negates the likelihood of damage due to inclement weather. Remember, the removal of broken and damaged limbs heals wounds. This in turn helps boost the strength and longevity of plants.
Pruning for safety implies removal of loose branches that might fall under pressure and cause injury, removing stretched branches that obstruct utility lines, and trimming long branches that block streets, roads, or driveways.
Pruning for aesthetics implies improving the form and appearance of trees. It also implies augmenting fruit or flower production.

Proper Tools Required to Prune and Train an Oak Tree
Most of the oak tree species can grow quite high and thus require pruning to maintain health and ensure longevity. If you know how to prune and train a live oak tree yourself, then you must be aware of the need for proper pruning tools. Using proper tools and information on pruning techniques will ensure health and aesthetic beautify of your oak tree. 

Remember that the tools basically depend on the size of the branches to be pruned. While hand pruners should be used for small branches, pruning saw is a better option if the branches are over 3 inches in diameter. For branches larger than 4 inches, you need a chain saw. Remember to keep safety equipment with you. It always comes in handy to have safety equipment while pruning. You never know when wound dressing might be required to prevent constant sap flow.

Learn When to Prune and Train an Oak Tree
Prune and train your oak tree any time between November and March, just before spring. The late dormant season is appropriate for pruning of oaks. This will ensure that any wounds will be exposed for a short period, as new growth will initiate the wound sealing process. Avoid pruning in summers, as oak trees can attract small beetles, which are the primary culprits behind the spread of oak wilt fungus disease. Thus avoid oak wilt disease from afflicting your oaks by not pruning them between April and July. In case oaks must be pruned during this time, ensure proper wound dressing to prevent the scent of freshly cut wood from attracting beetles. Also, avoid pruning during rainy or humid season.

Basics of How to Prune and Train a Live Oak Tree
Pruning is the best way to maintain a healthy and attractive plant. Pruning must be begun when the oak tree is still young, as removal of bigger branches later might take the form of a major operation, which might even result in deformation of the tree.

Pruning Young Oak Trees
Begin pruning to give shape to young trees; however, remember not to chop off the leader. 
Remove lower branches to get a raised crown.
Remove crossing branches or those that spread toward the tree center. 
Remove the branches narrowly spaced on the trunk. 
Pruning Well-Built Oak Trees
Large established oak trees must be pruned for:
Crown Thinning: It is the removal of branches spread throughout the crown. This is to ensure better light penetration and airflow for a healthy tree structure. 
Crown Raising: It is the removal of lower branches to create ample space above sidewalks, streets, or driveways. 
Crown Reduction: It is the removal of larger branches to restrict rise in height.  Removing more than the required lower branches will obstruct the growth of a strong stem. The pruning cut should be made at a lateral branch.
Pruning Small Branches
  Cut 1/4 inch above the bud to shorten either a branch or twig. 
  Prune above the bud that faces the exterior of a plant. This will force the new branch to spread only in that direction.

Pruning Large Branches
When removing large branches, it is important to avoid tearing the bark; thus three to four cuts are necessary to ensure that the bark remains secure. The first cut should be made underneath the branch and more than 18 inches away from the trunk. The second cut must be made one inch further on the branch. 
Before severing the branch from the main stem, it is important to identify the branch collar. Ensure that only branch tissue is removed and no stub is left. Leaving the branch collar intact after pruning will ensure quicker and effective wound sealing. This will ensure that the stem tissue will not decay. Make an undercut through the branch and then sever it.

Know How to Treat Pruning Wounds
Everybody knows that trees combat invasion by pests and pathogens through sap, resin, and gums; however, only a few of us are aware of the fact that excessive sap flow can weaken trees, very much like excessive bleeding in humans. At times when oaks are wounded from storms or pruning or other unforeseen mechanical wounds, they require immediate wound dressing. However, extra care must be taken during wound dressings, as they are unnecessary in most of the cases and can even be detrimental. 

Wound dressing does not in any way prevent decay or treat infectious diseases. Instead it might affect the protective benefits provided by tree gums or resins, thus preventing wounds from healing as quickly as they might have healed naturally. However, wound dressing is certainly effective in preventing trees from pathogens and insect transmission of certain diseases, especially oak wilt. In such cases, prefer using latex to oil-based paint. 

Image credit:
1. http://www.gfreefoodie.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Oak-Tree-800x485.jpg
2. http://www.venturacountytreetrimmers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/tree_trim_right.jpg
3. http://sstree.com/wp-cms/wp-content/uploads/call-now2.jpg

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