The Growth of Oak Trees

Overview

Oaks are some of the most magnificent and beautiful trees in the world. They are especially good shade trees, and hence require a lot of space. Oaks can grow to significant heights; as an example, the live oak species can grow 80 feet high and can have a shade area 100 feet wide. Oak growth can be a slow process, depending on the species. Oaks usually require little care, but some care (such as weed removal for young trees) will improve the tree's chance of survival. Oaks are widespread across North America.

Young Trees

Young oak trees grow from acorns that have been planted or simply have fallen into the soil. Mulch is beneficial to the growth of the young tree, as this will help retain moisture. Ideally, mulch should be composed of oak leaf litter, which promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms. If this is not possible at first, use alfalfa hay or wood chips. Other types of mulch, particularly stones or Bermuda grass hay, will be damaging to the tree.

Other Plants

Weeds--especially grasses--can interfere with oak tree growth. Their roots can compete with the tree for nutrients or water and should be removed in order to ensure the oak's health. The weeds should be removed without overly disturbing the soil or killing beneficial native plants. The area 1/3 of the distance from the trunk to the outermost foliage should be kept clear of any other plants. Oaks do not grow optimally alone; plants native to your area can provide cover and help control grassy weeds, as long as they are not too close to the tree.

Mycorrhizal Fungi

Oaks need mycorrhizal fungi in the soil to break down nutrients and make them available to the tree. Without healthy soil containing these fungi, the tree will not grow and will eventually die. Weeds, unsuitable mulch and bad soil are all conditions that disrupt these bacteria.

Irrigation and Fertilization

Healthy oak trees do not need fertilization, but a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer can be applied to young trees to help them grow faster. They should not receive irrigation unless a particularly dry period occurs. When watering the tree, it is very important to avoid getting the trunk wet.

Acorn Production

When the tree has reached a sufficient level of maturity, it will produce acorns. Some oaks' acorns mature during each growing season, while other trees' acorns do not mature until two growing seasons have passed. Acorns attract wildlife, especially squirrels, and pass the oak's genes to another generation.

Keywords: oak growth, about oaks, oak trees

About this Author

Gertrude Elizabeth Greene has been a freelance writer and editor for 10 years.Greene writes about a variety of topics including cooking, culture, nutrition, pets and home maintenance for websites such as eHow, GardenGuides and the Daily Puppy. She holds degrees in both philosophy and psychology.