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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - November 06, 2011

From: Clayton, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Safe branch length of oaks in Clayton NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 2 very large oak trees in my yard and I am concerned about the length of the branches over the house and driveway. Most seem larger than 4" in diameter. What is a safe length for these branches?

ANSWER:

The tree decides what its best length of branch is, depending on how many leaves it needs to manufacture food for the tree. What you need to worry about is the safety of anything that might be under those branches. Utility lines? Children's play area? Roof? We don't recommend that trees come in contact with the roof or walls of a structure; they are a highway for rodents, ants and other undesirables that will make their way into your house.

A pruning decision, however, is not something we could make sight unseen. If you are concerned that some of your oak branches are where they might be harmful, you need to consult a trained, licensed arborist. Trees as large as yours sound need people who not only know what to cut but how to manage up in a tree or on a tall ladder. They know when it's safe to cut (November is probably good in North Carolina) and how or whether to seal the wounds in the trees after they are cut. Oak trees are wonderful and valuable assets to your property-get someone that knows what they are doing to come in and give you some advice.

 

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