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trimming a pin oak

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by jasper, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. jasper

    jasper ArboristSite Lurker

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    what is the best time to trim a pin oak. the oak has never been trimmed and is 20 to 25 years old, branches are reaching out from the trunk app. 42 feet and the oak is app. 65 feet tall. so i guess what i am asking is what is the earliest that i can start trimming? and how much can i cut back without doing damage to the tree?
    i have been told do not cut more than 1/3 of the tree at one time. but is it too soon to get started now?
    thanks in advance for any help
    jasper
     
  2. Kneejerk Bombas

    Kneejerk Bombas ArboristSite King

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    Your Pin Oak has started to reach it's mature size and shape, so now you have decided, for one reason or another, that it should be cut back to conform to some preconceived notion of what you think a tree should look like?
    Let me guess. It has branches that are too thick and it needs thinning, it needs raising because the lawn guys keep getting mad, perhaps it's too tall and needs topping, and most commonly, it's planted too shallow, pile a foot or two of dirt on it's base.
    A Pin Oak's natural form is to have upper limbs growing up, center limbs growing straight out, and lower limbs growing downward. My guess is that you like all the limbs growing up, or out. Am I right?
    Don't fight with nature. An open grown Pin Oak is about as beautiful a tree as God has made. Mulch under the tree, so low branches aren't a problem, and let the tree do it's thing.
    If you have a chainsaw and must make cuts, just remove dead limbs. In a typical Pin, that'll take half a day. That means a half an hour just cutting your way to the top with your hand saw.
    If you take 1/3 of your tree off, it will suffer for sure, but worse, it will look like crap for years.
     
  3. whitenack

    whitenack ArboristSite Operative

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    Mike--what a great way to welcome a new member who is here to learn from your all's great advice! You have the opportunity to change someone's attitude about tree care, but instead you chose to drop a bomb on them. A great plan to win people to your side! :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    And I disagree with your soliloquy on the Pin Oak. In my opinion, it is one of the ugliest trees God has made.

    Jasper--I don't have any professional advice, since I am just an idiot homeowner like you, but I wanted to step up and tell you not to get offended by Mike. That is just the way he is.

    I don't blame you for wanting to do something with your Pin. I think they are terrible trees. You couldn't pay me to put one on my property.

    I would agree, though, that doing much trimming to the Pin would not be the best decision. Its best just to leave it alone. Better to have a healthy ugly tree than an dead or dying pleasantly-shaped tree.

    Or, just cut the whole thing down and plant you a better tree in its place.
     
    BillNole likes this.
  4. jasper

    jasper ArboristSite Lurker

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    Mike Maas - I don't like the tree but my uncle does and it in his yard. He planted it to close to his house and building and you know the story it grew and grew. Now he needs it trimmed back. The reason that I asked was because he doesn't have a computer or Internet. I didn't know who else to ask. Thanks to everyone that answered! :)
    jasper

    So is it too early to trim back or when can my Uncle start trimming with the least amount of dammage to the tree.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2005
  5. tzelmet

    tzelmet ArboristSite Lurker

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    It is interesting that just two days ago, my uncle Duane asked me to come to his farm and to do some tree work for him. As it happens, one of the problem trees is a pin oak. I concur that it is an ugly tree, but I didn't make it. I can however prune it. Dr. Shigo (check Sherill Co.) has some good books on the subject. This may sound crazy, but my suggestion is that you sit a few yards from the tree and ask it what the best way it can be pruned. If you try it you will see the geometry and it will be clear. As for the time to cut, being that it is now autumn, I would wait till most of the leaves have fallen and it is returning to it's dormant winter state. If you cut too much too soon, you will deprive it of many nutrients it has spent a summer accumulating, and that will make the tree suffer. As easy as it is to remove wood, I would take all the time needed to insure the best results. Your asking the question is indicative that your are already doing this. To sum up my answer, late october would be a good time to prune, without injuring the tree. Also, dont make internodal cuts.
     
  6. Old Monkey

    Old Monkey Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Wait till its leaves fall off? Pin Oak? Seems like all the ones I see keep their leaves on all winter even though they have browned. I like the idea of sitting and asking the tree what's the best way it could be pruned. It sounds funny but I think in a good pruning there is a dialogue between the tree and the trimmer. Oh and I like Pin Oaks and Mike Maas is a grumpy old .....with lots of helpful knowledge.
     
  7. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

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    Good advice from tzelmet; wait until it's dormant. It'd be nice if some of the leaves shed so you can see it better. Start by taking off dead branches (scratch the bark to see if it's dry inside if you're not sure). If it's too close to the house then your best tool is a pole pruner; cut branches back to lateral sidebranches that are pointing awaay from it.

    If you post pictures of it here, you may transform Mr. Maas from a grump who jumps to the worst conclusions about tree owners (which is all too easy after decades of dealing with them--eat your breakfast, Mike!) into a very helpful arborist who will guide you with respect.

    Pin oaks are gorgeous trees but they can be difficult to manage in tight locations. Rule #1: No cut without a GOOD reason! See Pruning Mature Trees and Mature Tree Care in the link below.
     
  8. Kneejerk Bombas

    Kneejerk Bombas ArboristSite King

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    Hey, I wan't even trying to be grumpy. :)
    Now that I think about it, Pin Oaks are horrible, ugly trees.
    If you simply get in there and remove all the dead wood, the crown will be much better looking. This is known as a crown cleaning. In some cases, this is all the tree needs. Then, as treehooker suggested, cut back limbs to give clearance for the house.
    Make cuts back to lateral branches.
    With really thick trees like Pins, especially younger trees, you can sometimes remove the larger branches on the side that needs clearance, and leave all the little branches. This leaves the tree looking more natural than having a bunch of stubbed off limbs.
     
  9. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

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    Very good point; some removal cuts, some thinning cuts and some reduction cuts. All reduction cuts can leave an ugly mess.

    Thanks for the picture; the best way to deal with the arborphobia expressed by whitenack.
     
  10. Kneejerk Bombas

    Kneejerk Bombas ArboristSite King

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    Many trees have limbs that die, quickly decay, and fall off, not Pins. They seem to hold every single branch that dies for the rest of time. A ten year old twig the size of a pencil, is tougher than most healthy tree twigs.
    It really makes removing dead wood a chore. You have to cut your way up, cut like mad to remove a limb, and then there's no way to get it to fall to the ground.
     
  11. Old Monkey

    Old Monkey Addicted to ArboristSite

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    The pin oaks I worked on in California were too thick and didn't have very good form. In Boise, Idaho they are great trees that grow much faster, maintain good shape and need little trimming. Whether or not folks like this tree could have to do with how they grow in their area.
     
  12. jasper

    jasper ArboristSite Lurker

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    I just wonted to think all of you that have posted a reply and I have called my uncle and he has decided to wait till the end of October or the first of November to trim the pin oak and he liked the idea about stepping away from the tree and looking at it, to try to keep it's shape. Well as close as he can. But i can assure you that my feet will stay on the ground, I don't like heights at all. I will leave all that climbing to him and anyone else that likes it. I will stay back and tell him where to go.... I mean where to CUT... All my tree trimming is done when the tree is laying flat on the ground where everything is real easy to get to... Well thanks again and we will talk again sometime!!!
     
  13. Elmore

    Elmore Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Don't wait for the leaves to fall. Prune in late January through February or better yet prune anytime you want, in moderation. Do any major pruning when the tree is not in an active growing stage. Late Winter or early to mid-Summer when not actively growing is good. You could wait till the tree sends you a fax, e-mail or memo, reminding you to start the pruning task. Communications with trees is of the utmost importance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2005
  14. treeseer

    treeseer Advocatus Pro Arbora

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    Brad, what kind of talkative trees you got there in AL? :alien:
    They do communicate, subtly; you gottta :Eye: pretty hard sometimes. "Trees love quietly" (Shigo)

    "Wonder if we're seeing the effects of providence."

    Dan I agree there is a lot of variation, geographic (provenance) and otherwise. Sometimes whole species get judged based on one variety; it ain't fair, like racism.

    Jasper email me if you want; I'm in NC too and may be able to refer you to someone good and inexpensive. ;) .
     
  15. Kneejerk Bombas

    Kneejerk Bombas ArboristSite King

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    In addition to provenance, there is quite a bit of cross breeding of some different spieces of trees of the same genus.
     
  16. whitenack

    whitenack ArboristSite Operative

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    I had a nice long reply with links of pics of pins that I am used to, but the computer locked up and my message didn't get posted.

    To sum up what I said, the Pins that I'm used to don't look like the one in the pic that Mike posted.

    In addition, it seems like 9 out of the 10 new trees planted in our areas are pins. Just go to a new subdivision, new park, new parking lot, etc., and you will see rows and rows of ugly pin oaks. You'd think people would have learned their lesson from the American Elm.

    By the way, the 10th tree is usually a bradford pear, another tree I distaste.
     
  17. fmueller

    fmueller ArboristSite Operative

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    Nobody said anything bout oakwilt. I was told if ya gotta prune, do it after October or the first frost to reduce chances of getting the oakwilt. Dont know bout your neck of the woods but around here its becoming a PITA and creating lots of firewood.
     
  18. trees4est

    trees4est ArboristSite Member

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    Here's a pin oak picture (hopefully). They can be quite nice sometimes, a little scabby sometimes, but tough to prune always.
     
  19. Kneejerk Bombas

    Kneejerk Bombas ArboristSite King

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    Awesome picture, makes you wonder what they mean that they are too course to be attractive.
    Looks like you're thinking about how to get your dog up there with you.
     
  20. Tree Wizard

    Tree Wizard ArboristSite Operative

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    Besides cross-breeding there are two different species of pin oaks:

    Pin Oak - Quercus palustris generally a bottom-land and moist uplands throughout central US from Atlantic coast to the plains states

    Northern Pin Oak - Quercus ellipsoidalis - more common on dry upland soils in the mid-west Also called Hill's oak in central WI. NPO tends to have less chlorosis problems than Q. palustris.

    The county court house grounds in Rockport, Indiana have several very nice 20"+ DBH pin oaks.
     

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