While gardeners may think spring is the ideal planting time for new trees, oak trees planted in the fall do very well after transplant. In the autumn, most trees are sold either in containers or balled and burlapped. The latter are typically field trees that have been uprooted and packaged. Either type works well for fall planting. To plant your new oak in the fall, wait for a warm and slightly overcast day, since sun can stress new trees.
Locate a site for planting your oak tree in autumn. Choose a site that offers full or part sun and is not located too close to buildings, walkways or sidewalks. As the oak matures its roots will spread underground.
Prepare the hole for your oak tree. Using a shovel, dig a hole that's twice as large as the oak tree's root ball. Rough up the ground at the bottom of the hole by jabbing it with your shovel; this will help the young oak's roots grasp the soil. Remove any weeds or rocks from your hole.
Get your oak tree ready for planting. Grasp container oaks at their trunk base and pull up; the tree will come out of the container. Break apart the root ball with your fingers and unwind any circled or tangled roots. For a balled and burlapped oak tree, cut away the burlap and remove any plastic or twine. The tree's roots should not be tangled, but untangle them if they are.
Place the oak tree in the hole at the same depth as it was planted in its container. Spread the roots out with your fingers. Check to ensure the tree is straight in the hole.
Fill in the hole with soil. Once you've mounded the soil up around the tree, form a basin by working the soil on the sides into a ridge. You should have a circled ridge with a hollow depression around the newly planted tree.
Water the tree by filling this basin with water. The water will seep into the soil and compact the soil around the tree's roots.