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Written By Karl VonBerg.

Posted on October 27th, 2020.

Tagged with Wildlife Improvement.

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Do you want to keep your oak trees healthy? Here are ways to give them the space and light they need to grow and produce an abundance of acorns.

You have oak trees and you now know where they are (refer to the Finding Oaks blog if you haven’t located and marked them). How do you make sure they are healthy and grow to produce an abundance of acorns?


Healthy oaks on the edge of a field have the potential to produce a good acorn crop.

Top tips for oak health and acorn abundance:

  1. Supply your oaks with plenty of sunlight to thrive. This means freeing them from surrounding tree competition. 
  2. Create healthy trees with live crowns spreading out more than 1/3 of their height. 

If you keep these two key points in mind, they will help guide you as you look at freeing or lighting oaks in the following four situations. 

  1. If your oak is growing out in the open or in an open woods where it has no trees close by and the area above it has at least a 75’ diameter opening with no tree tops shading it, then you don’t need to consider any of the following situations.Just make sure it is above deer browse level (6’ or higher) and if it could be used as a buck rub you could put a bark protector around it.


  2. If your oak is part of a group of crowded trees all the same height (> 6’ but < 40’) then free it up so its branches and leaves are free of other trees and have room to grow out to 1/3 of the tree’s height.Loppers or a hand saw may work for some of this.

  3. Your oak top is up in the overstory (upper canopy) of a woods along with the tallest trees, which are 40’+
    • Create a 20’ gap between your oak crown and neighboring crowns by felling neighboring trees in the overstory on 2 – 4 sides. Check out a GOL class to learn how to safely handle a chain saw and fell trees! These felled trees can be great for firewood.

  4. Your oak is in the low to mid-story of a woods, over 6’ tall, but not up in the overstory with the general height of the tallest trees: 
    •  If your oak tree is crowded by other trees of the same height, then refer to #2 above. Then move on to the bullet below.If not crowded, proceed to the bullet below.
    • Cut out the trees whose crowns are in a 50’ diameter space above your oak.Check out a GOL class to learn how to safely handle a chain saw and fell trees!
    • Make sure you can fell these trees so they don’t injure the oak you are trying to save. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, here is a list of loggers and foresters that can potentially help you with your project or direct you to someone who can.
    • If a 50’ diameter opening already exists above the oak tree, then expand it to 75’ – 100’. 


Hopefully this information has helped you be on your way to freeing or lighting the oak trees you want to save and help grow.  If you still have questions then check out the My Woodlot forum to ask your question(s).

You may find oaks below the 6’ level that you would like to save and help to grow into large mast producers.  Check out the next blog Helping Little Oaks (<6’) become Big Oaks to find out how to help them.

For more information/blogs on oaks, check out the following:


Finding Oaks


Helping Little Oaks Become Big Oaks



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