How to prune the top of scrub oak properly and what time of year?

Asked April 8, 2020, 7:48 PM EDT

My home is surrounded by scrub oak trees. I'd like to prune the tops so that I have views from our upper bedrooms. What is the best way to do it and best time of year?

Thank you! Jeff Roberts

Davis County Utah

1 Response

Though winter is the best time of year to prune, though now is OK if you do it right away. If the trees have not gotten way too tall, you can make many of your cuts shearing cuts. You would just cut back into last year's twig growth, or at most into the previous year's growth. The idea is to avoid cutting off twigs that are bigger than about ½ inch diameter. Then you have to keep making those cuts at about the same level every year or two. The look you will get is that of a hedge. It is not real natural; looking, but it is the only way to keep the height down on a tree that wants to get larger than you want it to be. You can reduce the height more by cutting back some branches to where another takes off. These are called thinning cuts. You cant' cut all of the branches back with thinning cuts though, because you would eventually run out of branches to cut.

We have a pruning factsheet available on our website at https://forestry.usu.edu/files/utah-forest-facts/pruning-landscape-trees-an-overview.pdf.

Good luck.

Mike Kuhns