Several species fall under the Oak Tree genus, Quercus. Totaling somewhere in the range of 600 species, there is an Oak to suit most any need. Many Oak Trees demonstrate moderate to fast growth, ranging somewhere between 2 and 5 feet of new growth during the season. Oak Trees grow quickly as saplings, establishing themselves within a few growing seasons as the dominant tree in most landscapes. Oak Trees are also grown for the generous shade they provide in summer.
These trees, often ranging between 40 and 80 feet tall, extend outwards in the same range, providing full shade. Preferring full sun, Oak Trees grow easily throughout most of the United States, with many species preferring slightly acidic well-draining soils. Oak Trees are established throughout history and mythology for their central importance; such as the Charter Oak in Connecticut, which hid the state’s charter from the King of England, or the Great Oak which represented Thor, the Norse god of thunder.
It is important to research carefully before beginning the planting of a new tree. Oak Tree especially can live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, so careful planting is important with such a long-term investment. Although Oak Trees require minimal effort on the part of the homeowner and landscaper, review the quick-facts below regarding the needs of an Oak Tree before reading the following sections for an in-depth view of buying, planting, and caring for the Oak Tree.
How to Buy Oak Trees
Purchasing an Oak Tree from a reputable nursery, such as The Tree Center, is central to the overall future success of the tree. Oak Trees, like most trees, do best when the initial stages of growth have been well-tended. Determine the best Oak Tree for the chosen planting location, remaining mindful of full sun exposure, which Oak Trees prefer. Then, order your Oak Tree from The Tree Center.
How to Plant Oak Trees
Sun: Plant in full sun with all day exposure.
Water: Water immediately after planting and then twice a month for the first six months. Provide a heavy watering in early spring if the winter was dry, and water once or twice during the summer if the area is drought-prone.
When to Plant: Early spring is best, though Oaks can be planted year round.
First, identify the location and type of tree being planted. The Sawtooth Oak and Live Oak are the most popular species planted in the United States. Then, order the tree from The Tree Center.
Once the tree arrives, prepare the hole. Examine the size of the tree’s root ball. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Remain mindful of width, as this is how the root systems of the Oak Tree retrieve water and oxygen. Digging too deep a hole is less effective, as this makes the passage of air and water to the Oak Tree’s root system more difficult. The hole should be slightly less deep than the height of the root ball as the tree will settle over time.
Once the hole has been dug, stand the tree vertically in the hole (a partner is beneficial at this stage). Hold the Oak Tree vertical while backfilling the hole with dirt and water.
If using mulch or fertilizer, add these at this point. Mulch should not exceed three inches in depth. Fertilizers, especially with young Oaks, should be gentle and slow-releasing in nature. Water the tree immediately at this point.
Soil is essential to a tree’s success; the necessary components of air, water, and nutrients reach the tree through the soil and Oak Tree’s root system. Soil is divided into three main categories based on granular size: sand, silt, and clay. None of these soils individually are preferred when gardening, arbor planting included.
Sandy soil is made up of large particles, and sandy soil often has difficulty with retaining water or nutrient matter, forcing these necessities to exit the area before they can be absorbed into the root system. Silt and Clay soils are both formed of tiny particles. Clay soils have smaller grains, and these often meld together, making water and air movement through the soil difficult.
When gardening, loamy soil is best. Loam soil is a combination of all soil types. This diversity in particle size enables the efficient movement of plant needs so the plants can obtain what they need. Unlike many other commonly-planted trees, Oak Trees are somewhat specific with soil needs. Oaks prefer slightly acidic, well-irrigated soil rich in nutrient matter. Use gentle fertilizers to compensate for poor soil if needed.
Oak Trees are strong, hardy trees, and once fully established, these trees can draw water from ground wells using the tree’s extensive root system; however, during initial growth, the Oak Tree may require some light water maintenance.
Water the tree immediately after transplanting. For the first six months water twice a month. Furthermore, water the tree once a week if less than an inch of rain has fallen. After the first six months, the Oak Tree should be relatively stable. Observe the leaves for signs of under-watering. If under-watered, the leaves will brown and crisp.
Mulch and Fertilizer
Mulch is beneficial when planting a new tree. Oak Trees especially can benefit from mulch early on in development, as the soil needs of the tree can be slightly specific. Mulch provides assistance in plant development in a variety of ways. First, mulch discourages water run-off, especially in clay and silt-based soils. This conserves water dispersal. Second, mulch provides a diversity of surface area, which assists in water conservation. Finally, natural wood-chip based mulches also decompose over time, adding nutrient-rich matter to the soil.
Fertilizers can be helpful when planting Oak Trees. Well-balanced, gentle, and slow-release fertilizers that contain macronutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, and magnesium will help to ensure the soil encourages successful Oak Tree growth. Well-balanced fertilizers also encourage more vibrant fall colors.
Information on Oak Trees
Oak Trees are a worthwhile investment, as some species live for thousands of years. Oak Trees are sprinkled throughout the annals of history, representing gods, religions, and political institutions. The White Oak is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Iowa, and different Oak Trees represent unique places in The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Canada, Basque Country, and Germany. Oak Trees are toxic when the leaves or acorn are eaten by cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, so if these are on the property, be careful.
Oak Tree Varieties and Cultivars
Oak Trees, as long-living trees, are unsurprisingly, diverse. With over 600 species grown throughout the world, there is an Oak Tree to suit almost every need. The most popular and highly-rated Oak Trees are listed below; however, be sure to visit The Tree Center for other possible varieties.
Sawtooth Oak Tree
The Sawtooth Oak Tree grows throughout much of the United States, preferably in USDA Hardiness zones 5-9. The name comes from the both the leaves, which have sharp-toothed notches, and the overall shape of the Oak, which offers a whimsical zigzag silhouette. Sawtooth Oak Trees reach up to 60 feet when fully mature, stretching out a to a comparable width.
Unlike its pickier cousins, the Sawtooth Oak Tree is adaptable and manages poor soil conditions well; however, if planting in sandy or clay soils that are alkaline heavy, be sure to use modest fertilizers and mulch to encourage growth. The Sawtooth Oak Tree is noted for its fast-growth, and it is one of the fastest-growing Oak Trees during its juvenile phase, sometimes reaching between 3 and 5 feet in a year.
The term live Oak refers to an evergreen Oak Tree; one which keeps its green leaves throughout the year. It is unsurprising that this tree is relegated to warmer climates of the south and west coast. Live Oaks are not generally found north of Oklahoma, Maryland, or Nevada, though they are found along the west coast as far north as Washington.
Live Oaks are known for their longevity, and some of the oldest known Oak Trees fall under this species. In addition to their long lives, Live Oaks are impressive to behold, reaching between 40 and 80 feet tall, and sometimes demonstrating a width of 100 feet.
Benefits of Oak Trees
Oak Trees have been present in gardens for so much of human history for many reasons. Oaks are easy to cultivate, and with proper care, they are especially long-lasting. With impressive heights and widths, Oak Trees are superb for providing shade. Fast-growth means that landscapers can quickly add property value to a home, as trees are a positive attribute, especially in newer housing developments throughout the United States. The Oak Tree is a classic, traditional American choice.
Oak Tree Concerns
Once established, Oak Trees are quite hardy. There are, however, some concerns that threaten Oaks, even old ones. Oak rot and wood-boring beetles, such as the Asian Long-horned Beetle, can cause severe interior damage to trees, especially long-established trees; unfortunately, these pests are not often noticeable. Be sure to buy the Oak Tree from The Tree Center, to ensure a pest-free, disease-free, fast-growing shade tree.