Live oak is a large spreading tree of the lower Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and to southern Texas. It normally grows in low sandy soils near the Coast but also occurs in moist rich woods and along stream banks.
On the Emerald Coast, Live Oaks often support many types of epiphytic plants, including Spanish moss, which hangs in weeping garlands, giving the trees a striking appearance. Live oak is a fast-growing tree. Sweet edible acorns are usually produced in great abundance and are of value to many birds and mammals including wild turkeys, wood ducks, jays, quail, whitetail deer, raccoons, and squirrels.
Oak trees are often left untrimmed to grow in their natural shape. But sometimes you need to trim dead limbs or limbs that are growing toward the roof of a home, outbuilding or power lines. Pruning an oak tree during its dormant season can help to direct the growth so that it grows into the general shape you desire. Pruning also is good for the tree's overall health.
How to Prune
Pruning an oak tree the wrong way may damage it. Trim limbs beyond the branch collar, or where the branch connects with the tree, not flush with the tree. When you trim the limb flush with the tree you could damage the bark on the part of the tree surrounding the limb. When pruning limbs that are a bit larger than 2 inches in diameter, use three cuts to slice through the limb to avoid tearing the bark. About a foot or so from the trunk, cut upward a third of the way into the branch and then make a second cut downward, just beyond the first cut until the branch breaks. The final cut at the collar can be made next.
When to Prune
Prune oak trees when they are dormant - that is, from winter after its leaves have fallen to the early spring, before it leafs out. This is important in an oak tree because pruning could lead to the spread of oak wilt if it isn't dormant. Oak wilt is a vascular tree disease that all oak trees are susceptible to. The disease is spread by bark beetles that carry oak wilt spores from infected trees and then infect healthy trees as they feed on them.