Winter Pruning Oaks

March 8, 2011

I once scared the bejesus out of a man with a chain saw in his hand.  It was May 1, and he was a utility company arborist, working his way down my street, cutting off limbs from trees that overhung the road.

He was just doing his  job when a mad woman in pajamas, with a baby on her hip, ran out of a house and screamed:  “Get away from that tree! Do you call yourself an arborist?  Haven’t  you ever heard of Oak Wilt?”  He backed away.

Oaks must been pruned before March 15th to prevent picnic beetles from visiting open wounds later in the Spring and infecting the trees with Oak Wilt.  Here is the tree I rescued:

More about Oak Wilt in Wisconsin.   Do not let your local utility or your landscape contractor prune oaks  after March 15.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Danniel March 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

How devastating. Urban foresters are finally starting to learn (and we have all learned the hard way) that it is way too risky to plant a single species of tree on a street. When a disease comes through, they all get it & must go & the results are awful. Diversity is key. If they had even planted two different species, you’d still have half your trees!


Anna March 11, 2011 at 1:47 am

They chopped down almost all of the trees on my street last summer. The crew said they were rotting. It looks terrible there now. I miss seeing the cooper hawk and fireflies come out of them.


Erika March 11, 2011 at 1:44 am

This is so good to know! I will keep an eye out. Utility workers have been in my backyard before. I will make sure to check the calender next time they come.


Craig Mattson March 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm

The photography here is very good, and the site is both elegant and personal at the same time. I like the image of the screaming woman with the baby in her arms yelling at the arborist!


Danniel March 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thank you, Craig.


Laurie March 9, 2011 at 9:42 am

Reminds me of my favorite pruning story. My son thought he would help me out the spring/summer I put my house up for sale. He decided the birch tree to the left of my front door needed to be cleaned up a bit. (I liked it the way it was.)

After he did his pruning (which I was not even aware of at this point, since he did not ask me if I wanted the pruning…), my realtor drove up and parked her car under the tree (in the circle drive). When she left, her car was covered in sap. That tree dripped sap for weeks. Everyone who came to look at the house left with sap. My dog was sticky from sap. You could actually just watch it drip, drip, drip.

I have blocked the remainder of the story from my memory, though this happened less than two years ago.


Danniel March 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm

YEAH, birches are notorious for that. To prevent weeping in birches and maples, you pretty much have to prune in January.

The good news is, the weeping and oozing doesn’t really harm the tree. It is just an eyesore and a laundry problem.


Laura March 9, 2011 at 8:01 am

Huh – interesting. Thanks for the info!


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