How to prune the top of a 30 foot oak tree so it's a 20 foot tall oak tree

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Don't be a barbarian..... if you don't want a 30' tree, cut the whole thing down & plant a tree that only grows to 20'. Or leave the tree alone & "get over" your view.
Topping a tree in an attempt to make it conform to your space or aesthetic will result in a deformed tree.
Trees have a natural size & shape. You can prune, thin or sculpt within those limits but just topping a tree will result in unnatural growth patterns. In your case..... a 20' oak bush.
I live on a street in SoCal where oaks are our parkway trees. My original tree (planted in 1930) lasted until 1980. California oaks need a summer dormancy brought on by lack of water....suburban yard watering precludes the summer dormancy & shortens the tree's life.
The replacement tree (now 30 years ago) is nearing 30', I planted it as a very nice 15 gallon specimen which has outperformed oaks planted at the same time as 24" box specimens . My neighbor's tree (~1950) is probably near 50' and close to the end of its life.....so goes the cycle.
If you're insistent on "topping" this tree (hopefully an infraction, subject to a fine in your area) just find someone with a truck, ladder & a chainsaw. A true arboritist would never execute on this plan, they might be able to thin or prune to get closer to your desires but you need a smaller tree.
I'm guessing (& I hope I'm wrong) but the typical view enamored SoCal resident doesn't really care about a tree that is blocking their view. :(
Perhaps a thinning would give you your view without destroying a tree.
If you're young & agile, your ladder & chain saw might do the trick.
If you're old & experienced (like me) learn to enjoy the tree.
cheers Bob
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That's a knotty suggestion, Bob. =:O
I'll leave the 'wood' rimshot for someone else.
R
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On 7/5/2011 1:25 PM, DD_BobK wrote:

thirty-foot tree will make for a very, very ugly view. I'm getting the feeling this is a troll's question ..... the OP surely has considered how often he would have to take off the top of this (mutilated) tree once it is "topped". On the practical side, topping a large tree can make it considerably deformed and weak, subject to coming down on the house in a storm. Curious about the view OP wants to preserve.
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wrote:

My front yard maple got topped by a terrible storm perhaps 12 years ago. big power outages for days.
well the entire top of the tree broke off.
Since then I have topped the tree perhaps 5 or 6 times. it provides some really needed shade and a home for wildlife.
but its days are numbered, the top keeps rotting out and i have no choice but make it shorter.
a few more toppings and it will be a over sized bush.......
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On Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:25:34 -0700, DD_BobK wrote:

After reading all your advice, I decided on the sensible thing, which was to cut the tree down.
It's now a very heavy dense wood pile of 20 inch long logs of from a foot and a half (or so) in diameter down to about 10 inches or so in diameter.
The view has improved immensely, although I hadn't thought about how to remove the stump until now. I've chain sawed it to the ground so, I could either leave it that way, or dig around it to lower it below the ground (and then fill it in with soil).
Now I have to find a tree that grows only to twenty feet in height in California weather (where there is no rain from about May to the end of December) and no irrigation system (at least not where that tree was).
Thanks for all your advice. I learned that topping a tree is 'barbaric', so, I did the right thing in the end, as advised.
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If you wanted to remove the stump through digging, you should _not_ have cut the tree to ground level. Digging a stump is harder than splitting the logs. You dig all the loose soil from around the tree starting about 2 feet away. Then you start cutting any major roots you expose.
It helps a lot if you have 4 or 5 feet of the stump to grab and rock back and forth. Don't use a shovel to pry it out, you'll break the shovel. Use a 5+ foot pry bar if you have one.
You can't dig around it to lower it.
--
Dan Espen

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On Fri, 08 Jul 2011 22:30:28 -0400, despen wrote:

Now I find that out! :(
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Dear Arkland-
Not to wanting to be a DH but....... how did you (do you) earn enough money to buy a house with oaks & a view but appear so totally clueless with respect to the "real world".
As in how to do real things........
paper pusher? entertainment industry? financial industry? attorney?
The guys in this newsgroup offering you guidance, the benefit of their wisdom & experiences, are a capable bunch. Read & learn and don't be so impulsive....
you went from "topping a tree" to a pile of oak logs and a flush cut stump in short order. :(
All because you wanted a view, that tree was probably older than you & now it's firewood (if you can figure out how to do some real work)........
another example of 21st century America, more money than brains.
Any chance you drive a Hummer? or maybe a Suburban?
Turning a large tree into firewood to support your desire for a view was not a noble effort. :( Thinning could have been a possible alterative. Don't let the wood go to waste.
Plant several other trees to atone....... it just might improve your karma. Use appropriate species, in appropriate locations, so some other AH does butcher them in 50 years.
cheers Bob
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Geez. Tough audience!
I cut a few trees and bushes too low before it sunk in. Leave something to grab onto.
Most people need to learn through experience.
--
Dan Espen

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On Sat, 09 Jul 2011 17:46:47 -0400, despen wrote:

Me included!
PS: I am an accountant.
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hard to believe that mature trees add value to homes. you likely decreased your homes value by cutting down that tree
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On 7/10/2011 10:30 AM, bob haller wrote:

I don't get why people often do that. I am in an older part of town. There is a nice house behind us that has some well spaced out good looking mature trees. The couple who lived there passed on and their son who lives in another state sold the house. The new owner announced that as soon as he could get around to it the trees were coming down so "the kids could play?"
About 10 years earlier the same thing happened at the house next door. The property had great specimens that were all professionally maintained. They cut down every one a few months after they moved in.
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wrote:

Not only do they look nice, but they sure help keep the house cooler. Sure, the leaves are a PITA, but the benefits are still greater than the work required to be rid of them.
I see some of the new house developments that are clear cut. It will be 25 to 30 years before they have decent trees. Assuming the homeowners are smart enough to plant a few.
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On 7/10/2011 10:42 AM, George wrote:

Doesn't have to be older parts of town- I see the same thing in yuppie semi-rural subdivisions. They buy a wooded lot, and basically clear-cut it border to border (sometimes they leave 2-3 trees), build the house, and plant little sticks that won't be big enough to provide any shade till the kids are in college.
Of course, after the storm here six weeks ago, when I lost several large and elderly trees, I was luck they were not on the upwind side of my house. (My backyard is WAY to sunny now.)
--
aem sends....

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On 7/10/2011 10:30 AM, bob haller wrote:

View can count for a lot, too....being an accountant he probably ran the numbers. THAT would explain the decision :o)
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On 7/10/2011 10:56 AM, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

I think there was supposed to be a dash after the first 'that'. IOW, 'hard to believe that - mature trees add value to homes'.
--
aem sends...

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That explains nearly everything, my condolences.
..... knows the cost of everything & value of nothing.
I figure educated, intelligent people learn from the experience of others...... reading?
Stick to the 10 key, the spreadsheet & PC........ you're too destructive with power tools. :(
cheers Bob
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On Tue, 05 Jul 2011 13:45:37 +0000, Red Green wrote:

I find the advice from well-intentioned people on this newsgroup to be as good or better than the so-called experts.
At least nobody here is trying to make money off of me so I can trust their advice, however brutal.
Thank God for the newsgroup!
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Dig it up.
Lay it down on the ground, so that it is lying on the ground.
(I hate the misuse of lie and lay)
Prune it in complete safety.
Replant it.
Of course, we have a hydraulic tree spade at work. If you're doing this by hand, YMMV.
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On Sun, 10 Jul 2011 14:17:03 -0700, TimR wrote:

The branches now lie where the entire tree lay.
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