How to Pick a Live Oak Tree


The selection process to pick a live oak tree (Quercus virginiana) increases the survivability rate when transplanting the tree. Live oak trees can reach heights of 60 to 80 feet. It thrives best in hardiness zones 7 to 10. Sunny locations with well-drained soil provide the ideal location for a live oak tree. Characteristics of young saplings often determine the appearance and health of mature trees. Use a live oak tree as a focal point and shade for the front yard.

Step 1

Pick up each of the containers with the available live oak trees and examine the bottoms. Eliminate containers (set them aside) with the largest volume of roots protruding from the drainage holes. Excessive roots indicate root-bound saplings and potential stress. Ideally, no roots should extend beyond the drainage holes.

Step 2

Place the pots in a single row. Examine the oak tree trunks. Remove from the row the saplings with the smallest trunk circumference size.

Step 3

Examine the remaining seedlings in the row for disease and pests. Do away with any of the trees with spots, tears, growths or holes on the leaves.

Step 4

Select the oak tree with the tallest height and highest leaf volume from the remaining containers.

Tips and Warnings

  • Oak trees from Internet ordering cannot be examined prior to purchase. Avoid picking oak trees from the Web.


  • "The Homeowner's Complete Tree and Shrub Handbook"; Penelope O'Sullivan; 2007

Who Can Help

  • U.S. Forest Service Department of Agriculture: Quercus Virginiana -- Southern Live Oak
  • Clemson University Extension: Live Oak
Keywords: pick oak tree, oak tree sapling, live oak tree, best oak trees, healthy oak saplings

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.