How Often to Prune Trees (Including Oak Trees)

How Often to Prune Trees (Including Oak Trees)

With a few snips of a pruning tool, trees have just what they need to kick off strong growth or shake off weak branches.

Thanks to a proper trim, trees are ready to grow as soon as spring arrives. It seems like our plants would want this clean slate every year, but timing is everything when it comes to pruning.

Keep reading to get the rundown on how often to trim or prune trees.


The Proper Pruning Schedule for Your Trees

Every tree grows at a different rate, which means trimming time can vary a bit. Generally, pruning every 3 to 5 years is best.

How often should you prune trees?

There are all kinds of reasons you may need to trim your trees! Perhaps a weak branch is on the brink of falling, or a young tree needs to establish its structure.

A certified arborist can help figure out the timeline that works best for your particular tree. Though, most mature trees operate on a 3 to 5-year cycle while younger trees are pruned more frequently (typically every 2 to 3 years).

“That’s a rule of thumb. To find out exactly how often to prune your trees, you’ve got to consider the tree’s type, size and health,” says Marcus Parker of Davey’s Southeast Chicago office.

For example, fruit trees often need an annual trim to help them produce each spring, while evergreens can go years without a prune.

Before scheduling tree pruning, you’ve also got to think about the time of year. Generally, the dormant season (after trees lose their leaves and before they return in spring) is one of the best times to prune. But, some trees have an even stricter schedule, like oaks.

How often should you trim oak trees?

Like other trees, oak trees are generally pruned every 2 to 3 years when young and every 3 to 5 years when they’re older. But oak trees have unique pruning needs because they can be infected with oak wilt, a deadly disease brought on by pests that prey on fresh pruning cuts.

Oak wilt is most active from April to July, which is why you should never trim oak trees in the summer. To be safe, you should avoid pruning between April 1 and October 1.

Davey arborists recommend pruning oak trees between November 1 and March 31.

Ready to get your trees pruned? Click here for a free consultation!

  • The Tree Doctor October 1, 2018 >Hi Calvin, The best material for placement beneath your pin oak is a 2-4 inch layer of wood chips. Wood chip mulch has been shown to provide many benefits to trees in urban areas. In terms of proper pruning, I recommend you contact an ISA Certified Arborist® in your area. He or she can look at your tree and provide an accurate assessment and management options. You can contact your local Davey Tree office for a free consultation directly at (703) 297-3002. You can also fill out a consultation request for on their local web page here: Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Calvin.
  • Calvin Howell September 21, 2018 >I have a 18 year old pine oak tree positioned in the front corner of my property. Can the branches/drip line be shortened? If so, how short before damaging this beautiful tree? There isn't any internet info relative to reducing the drip line of this tree. Another question I have is what is the ideal ground surface, ground cover, mulch bed, and/or plants underneath the pine oak tree? Generally, my grass dies under this tree and would like to change to plants or landscaping ideas moving forward without causing damage.
  • The Tree Doctor August 28, 2018 >Hi Julieta, We usually recommend pruning oaks during the fall or dormant season whenever possible. This is to reduce the risk of pruned oaks contracting the disease oak wilt, which can be spread by certain insects if pruned during I spring and early summer. You can contact your local Davey Tree office directly to schedule a free consultation at (703) 297-3002. You can also fill out a consultation request form on their local webpage here: Here if you need anything else, Julieta.
  • Julieta Banerjee August 26, 2018 >I am surrounded by Oaks and I have seen far some branches peeling and without leaves . When should they be cut/pruned and how much do you charge. The are tall slim trees. Thank you
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