pin oak branches dying, mainly North side #562569 - Ask Extension


pin oak branches dying, mainly North side #562569

Asked May 19, 2019, 9:49 AM EDT

We've been hoping our pin oak would eventually provide some shade to house and patio, but it is doing poorly  now. I noticed last winter that most of the leaves and branches were on the south side. Some branches on the north side are dead, some I haven't cut them off as some information online says trimming may disturb healthy branches. Some internet sites discuss oak wilt.

Livingston County Michigan

Expert Response


I don’t see anything obvious in your pictures. The branches dying on one side could be from winter exposure or a root zone problem in the area of the roots that feed that side of the tree- compacted soil, root damage.

You are correct to not prune now. If it becomes necessary to prune oak in the growing season, paint the cut with a latex house paint within a few minutes of cutting the branch. 

It appears you have planted the tree at the correct depth, and you have removed the grass from the root zone- good! I would have a certified arborist out to examine the whole tree and give a treatment plan. He/she can run tests, or may see something in person, that indicates what is going on. ( An arborist visit can include an exam of all trees on your property at the same visit- making it a efficient thing to do if you have any other questions on trees or shrubs.) Find a certified arborist here by zip code-

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Laura Sheffer Replied May 20, 2019, 8:31 AM EDT
Thank you. Some of the North side branches have started to leaf out. We applied a 12 month feed and protect product prior and that might have helped. We plan to get some more wood chip mulch around the base.
The Question Asker Replied May 29, 2019, 1:43 PM EDT
It takes longer for dormant secondary buds to leaf out if the primary buds were killed over winter. Glad tohear that side isn’t completely killed. 
Laura Sheffer Replied May 29, 2019, 3:08 PM EDT

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