Caring for The Magical, Mighty Oak Tree

mighty oakAncient Celtic druids venerated trees, but especially the Mighty Oak. They believed that because trees are living beings, each had a spirit. This spirit was depicted as “The Green Man”, a peculiar face that looks like it is peering out of the tree trunk, found on the decorative carvings of churches, cathedrals, city buildings all over the U.K. and Europe. The Green Man, often seen depicted with the seed of the oak, the acorn, represents growth and rebirth.

In  my neighborhood, my neighbors and I  love our trees, especially our oaks, some of which are well over 100 years old. Like the Green Man who may be peering out from the bark, our magical neighborhood oak trees have seen many changes in the landscape throughout their life spans. They have provided us, our gardens and the wildlife that we enjoy with shade, refuge, acorns and majestic seasonal beauty. We want to honor their years of stately labor by keeping them as healthy and disease-free as possible.

According to certified arborists Scott Bailey and Dylan Kimsey, owners of Bonsai Tree Care Company, there are some tips that we can keep in mind to keep our oak trees healthy and happy for many years to come. 

Tip One: Wintertime is the only time to safely prune our oak trees. After the first hard freeze and straight through the end of February is the time when the oak tree is dormant, or not growing. It is also the time when airborne infects and fungus, which could spark disease, are minimized. Trimming an oak tree in the winter is the best course of action to allow the tree’s wounds to heal well before spring. If an oak tree is trimmed at other times of the year, the risk of disease transmission, such as Oak Wilt, increases.

Tip Two: Oak trees will naturally shed their dead limbs. If left unattended to, the oaks will naturally compartmentalize and create a callous around the dead wood. The callous grows larger through the entire limb and causes the limb to drop off. Limb shedding could be a hazard in high-traffic areas for people, pets and property. It is vital to inspect our trees routinely and trim the dead wood as necessary. Again, pruning during the winter is the best course of action.

Trip Three: We should have our oak trees professionally trimmed every three to five years. With professional, proper and more frequent structural pruning while the tree is young, the need for large scale trimming on a mature tree is greatly reduced. This will increase the oak tree’s overall health and decrease the risk of a catastrophic failure, such as damage by strong winds, in the future.

As an avid gardener and a homeowner, oak tree care is important. Selecting a trained, caring and certified professional arborist to maintain your oak tree is very important, too. A tree care company with certified arborists can schedule a yearly visit to inspect your oaks for signs of weakness or disease and recommend a course of action that you can trust.  Here’s to providing proper care for our beloved oaks.

© Rita Perea, 2015. All rights reserved.

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