Why is Paint Used for Oak Tree Trimming?

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Have you ever wondered why professional tree trimmers paint the cuts made on oak trees? Oak tree trimming is a very unique process. In the old days, it was standard operation to treat open wounds on all trees with some sort of wound dressing. Today, however, research shows that painting tree wounds can actually inhibit healing and even promote disease. So, why are oak trees still showcasing paint in your neighborhood? It has everything to do with oak wilt.

Preventing Oak Tree Diseases with Paint

If you live in Central Texas, you love your oak, but let’s face it – you can’t mention oak trees without the mention of the dreaded oak wilt. This destructive fungus known as Ceratocystis fagacearum enters the tree’s vascular system through open cuts in the protective layer. This fungus then transports from a diseased tree to a healthy tree with the help of sap beetles. Attracted to the tree sap seeping from an oak tree’s open wounds, these beetles feed and leave behind the oak wilt fungus.

Because the roots of oak trees are often grafted together and can extend hundreds of feet, oak tree diseases can spread quickly. Unfortunately, treatment for oak wilt are time consuming, costly and rarely work. Without the proper oak tree trimming, one diseased tree can take out an entire neighborhood of oaks. And with them goes the beauty of your landscape, the shade and up to 20 percent of your property’s value.

Needless to say, nobody likes oak tree diseases, but as with any threat, prevention is key. Here’s how you can prevent your oak tree sap from turning into oak wilt:

  • Avoid oak tree trimming when the oak wilt is peaking (typically February through June). In fact, many areas ban trimming during this time.
  • Trim only when absolutely necessary. Your oak trees don’t require annual trimming, so only do so when you’re attempting to remove dead limbs, raising or brightening a canopy or encouraging growth.
  • Use the right equipment. While it’s advised to work with a professional to prevent oak tree diseases, if you’re doing it yourself, use sharp tools and appropriate blades sizes. Hacking away at your tree will only create gashes that the tree sap beetle will feed on and infect your tree. Also, remember to disinfect your tools between use and between tree.
  • Seal all cuts that are wider than an inch with acrylic spray paint or tree sealant. Again, a professional is best at handling this, but the general rule is to immediately spray any cut larger than your finger.
  • Remove diseased limbs. If you come across oak wilt, avoid reintroducing the fungus or any other oak tree diseases into landscape through compost or mulch. Instead, contact your local tree removal specialists, who will remove them and use heat treatments to kill the disease.

Unless you’re highly skilled at oak tree trimming and know how to handle the tree sap that accompanies it, it’s best to call a local arborist to take care of the task. You’ll avoid the risk of damaging your own property, as well as you neighbors’.