The stately live oak is a frequent and welcome sight throughout central and west Texas. These massive trees are known for their speedy growth, their long, sweeping limbs, and their exceedingly long lives — the oldest live oaks in the United States are estimated to be thousands of years old.
Unfortunately, the lives of these beautiful trees can be cut short by oak wilt — and oak wilt is more common in Texas than in any other part of the country. Oak wilt is caused by a fungus that’s carried and spread by the Nitidulid beetle. This beetle is drawn to the sweet smell of the live oak’s sap. For this reason, many folks around the Austin area are afraid that pruning, since it allows tree sap to flow to the tree’s exterior, is dangerous for the health of their live oaks.Pruning is Natural and Necessary
Your live oak is just like any other tree. It needs to be well maintained, and wise pruning is part of the care a healthy tree requires. So — what do we mean by wise pruning? For starters, consider the time of year. The Nitudulid beetle is generally far less active during our cold season, late November through early February. This makes winter the best time for pruning your live oak.
However, your tree may need pruning at other times of the year — and it’s important for your tree’s health that you not delay necessary maintenance! No matter what time of year, your live oak will need to to be trimmed if its limbs are interfering with utilities, or hanging in such a way that there’s danger to traffic, structures, or passers-by.
You may want to trim branches that hang too low to the ground, as this encourages healthy growth at the tree’s crown. Your live oak will need trimming if any of its branches have been damaged by storms, or if branches are rubbing on a building or another branch. And certainly, a dead limb should be removed right away.Precautions for Safe Trimming
In any season there are certain precautions you or your tree trimming professional should take to minimize the risk of oak wilt. All pruning tools should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with a 10% solution of water and bleach, or a safe disinfectant made specifically for use with trees. Remember to clean those tools before they’re used on a second tree, as well as before and after each trimming session!
Once a branch has been trimmed, it’s very important to seal the wound quickly. This is what keeps the sap from attracting the Nitudulid beetle. It’s okay to use latex paint for your sealant, but we prefer tree paint or a good pruning sealer.
The experienced professionals at Good Guys Tree Service cherish your live oak as much as you do. Call us with questions regarding the health of a live oak as well as any other of your Austin tree trimming and tree removal needs. Your 100% satisfaction is always our goal, and we’ll go the extra mile to earn it.