How to Space Live Oak Trees


Chosen as the state tree of Georgia, live oaks are one of the most popular trees in the southern United States. Live oaks grow to a stunning size. It isn't so much the trunk, however, that catches one's eye. It is the amazing canopy, spreading out to twice the size of the tree's height. For this reason, spacing live oaks properly is of considerable importance. Nearby structures such as buildings, fences and power lines can be adversely affected by poorly placed oak trees. Consider their size at maturity when selecting a planting site.

Step 1

Educate yourself about the live oak. Be certain you're planting it in a climate conducive to its needs. Live oaks do best in the lower Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States.

Step 2

Consider how big the tree will get. The live oak is the broadest spreading of all oaks. Its canopy will spread to almost twice the tree's height. At its mature height of 40 to 60 feet, its canopy will spread anywhere from 80 to 120 feet.

Step 3

Consider the surrounding area. With knowledge of the tree's ultimate size, look for power lines, nearby buildings, fences, streets and sidewalks. When planting near paved areas, leave at least 5 to 6 feet of sod between paved areas and the tree. This allows the roots to spread without interfering with the paving.

Step 4

Planting several live oaks in one area requires thoughtful spacing. Remember that each tree's canopy will be in excess of 80 feet. Trees should be planted no closer than 30 feet apart. The live oak is a fast grower, gaining 2 to 2 ½ feet in height per year. In 10 years the tree's canopy will be 50 feet wide.

Step 5

Mark the areas in which the oaks will be placed with landscape spray paint.

Step 6

Dig the holes twice as wide, and slightly shallower, than the tree's root ball.

Step 7

Slide the tree gently into the prepared hole, and cover it with soil, leaving 1 inch of the root ball exposed. Water the trees in generously.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never plant live oaks immediately adjacent to sidewalks, driveways or homes, where the roots will crack the concrete. Before digging, call your local utilities to identify the location of any underground utilities.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscape spray paint
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel


  • U.S. Forest Service: Southern Live Oak
  • Online Planting live oaks
  • Iowa State University Extension: Sidewalks and Trees

Who Can Help

  • American Live oak, The Ultimate Southerner
Keywords: live oaks, spacing oaks, planting trees

About this Author

Lisa Larsen has been a professional writer for 18 years. She has written radio advertisement copy, research papers, SEO articles, magazine articles for "BIKE," "USA Today" and "Dirt Rag," newspaper articles for "Florida Today," and short stories published in Glimmer Train and Lullwater Review, among others. She has a master's degree in education, and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.