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Trimming your live oak trees: When is the right time?

Live oak trees were given their name because they keep their beautiful leaves all year long, even through the fall and winter. They are a natural and beautiful part of the Central Texas landscape and can live for hundreds of years if properly maintained. As the live oak trees grow on your property, it is vital to properly trim and care for them to promote healthy growth and protect them from diseases. Many people are unaware that there is a right and wrong time to trim their oak trees, and doing so during the wrong season may leave your tree more susceptible to the dreaded oak wilt.

While it is recommended that you regularly trim your trees in order to keep them healthy, doing so at the wrong time of year may actually do more harm than good. It is recommended that property owners trim their trees in late fall or winter when the insect and fungus that can cause serious harm to your trees are less active.

The Nitidulid Beetle and Fungus: A Deadly Combination

In Central Texas, oak wilt is most often associated with two pests, the Nitidulid beetle, and an infectious fungus -Ceratocystis Fagacearum- that can cause your beautiful live oaks to wither away and die.  The beetle is particularly attracted to sweet smells, and freshly-trimmed live oaks are known to emit a sweet odor that attracts these harmful insects. The beetles are known to carry the fungus, and it can easily infect and kill your trees by attacking the vascular system and spreading through the interconnected root system of nearby trees.

The beetles are most active in the spring months from February to May, and their activity subsides in the cooler Central Texas months of November through January. That is why so many tree experts recommend trimming your live oaks during this period to avoid tree wilt, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Oak Wilt Guidelines in Austin

The City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) founded the Oak Wilt Suppression Project in 1988 to work with local neighborhood associations as well as the Texas Forest Service and the USDA Forest service to locate and monitor the spread of the disease and educate the public on prevention. The city’s Oak Wilt Policy recommends “When possible, city staff and contractors should avoid trimming or pruning Live oaks and Red oaks (Spanish, Shumard, Texas Red, and Blackjack oaks) from Feb 1 to June 30.

City of Lakeway Diseased Tree Ordinance

Residents of the City of Lakeway should be aware that the city has a Diseased Tree Ordinance that prohibits the trimming of live oaks from February through June, when trees are at the highest risk of oak wilt. Per the ordinance, exceptions may be made if there are property damage risks or public safety issues, but consent to trim must be obtained in advance from the Lakeway City Forester. For more information from the Forester’s office, you can contact them directly at (512) 314-7538 to learn more or request consent to trim your oak trees.

Cedar Park Tree Trimming Guidelines

The city of Cedar Park does not have an ordinance in place like Lakeway, but they do recommend that residents only trim their trees in the colder months of the year, much like the city of Austin. According to the city’s guidelines: “The City discourages residents from trimming oak trees between February 1 and June 30, when the beetles are particularly active, unless necessary.  Additionally, the City encourages fresh tree wounds to be sealed with a tree wound dressing or latex paint and for tree pruning tools to be cleaned with a 10 percent bleach solution or Lysol at all times of the year.”

Buda Oak Wilt Treatment Map

Residents of the city of Buda are also strongly encouraged to limit tree trimming to the cooler months of the year. The city has provided a helpful Oak Wilt Treatment Map to show how the disease is being managed in the area.

Turn to the Tree-Trimming Experts for Help

If you are looking to keep the live oak trees on your property healthy, it is recommended that you turn to a team of Austin tree trimming professionals that you can trust. The ISA certified arborists at Hamlin Tree Care, Inc have the experience and equipment needed to properly care for the live oaks on your property to prevent oak wilt. We will come inspect your trees for pests and the deadly fungus and our skilled team will trim the trees to keep them looking healthy and beautiful all year round. Call us at (512) 484-0252 for help trimming your live oaks today.

Have a question? Give us a call at (512) 484-0252!