Q: I have several Live Oak trees that have begun to get in my way when I try to mow around them; the lower limbs keep hitting me in the face. I have been told to trim them in the hottest part of the summer or in winter. Which is the best time to trim the limbs and not be concerned about Oak Wilt?
A: It depends on which “expert” you talk to. The most widely recommended time and the one that has been recommended longer than the other is in winter during the coldest months, late December to mid February. That is the time period in which the disease spreading insects are definitely not active. Be certain that your trimming equipment is clean and sterile before you begin. If you trim more than one tree clean and sterilize the equipment before moving to the next tree. Be careful to not cut too close to the trunk of the tree or to leave to long of a stub. When cutting with a saw make a small cut on the bottom of the branch 3 or 4 inches out from the tree then finish cutting from the top 3 or 4 inches out from the first cut, this keeps the limb from dropping and pulling the bark off the tree below the cut. When the main part of the limb you are removing is off, then go back and remove the stub. Try to leave at least a quarter of an inch of the limb, that will heal over faster than if cut flat to the tree. I still recommend pruning paint to seal the cuts, but if the cuts are made in winter the area should dry out and not be attractive to the insect before spring. For lack of space this is the fast answer, for more details contact a certified Nursery Professional or a Certified Arborist.