Care of Oak Trees

Overview

Oak trees are large, beautiful, deciduous trees that can live for more than 200 years. There are four broad groups of oak trees that are defined primarily by the shape of the leaves. The hardwood of the tree is often used in furniture making, but oak trees are also valued for their attractiveness and for the shade they provide. Oak trees are generally hardy, easy-to-care-for trees and have the same basic culture requirements regardless of the species.

Step 1

Protect the zone around the tree. Oak trees do not like the immediate area around them to be disturbed. Changes or disturbances in an oak tree's environment can greatly weaken the tree. Do not park anything under an oak tree (within 6 feet) or even run a lawn mower underneath it if possible. In addition, do not pave that area or even cover it with a deck or gravel.

Step 2

Water carefully. Oak trees do not need much, if any, supplemental watering. In fact, this can activate fungi that live in the soil, which can then spread to the tree, infecting it and even killing it. Never water during the summer months. If you do decide to water, give the tree a day-long, deep soaking once in the spring, and then once again in the fall. Do not water the tree within 6 feet of the trunk. Do not plant any plants under the tree that need a lot of watering. Instead, plant drought-tolerant plants under oak trees, or nothing at all.

Step 3

Prune oak trees only to remove dead or dying branches. Never prune during the wet season. June or July is best. Pruning during the wet season can open up the tree to an oak wilt infection, caused by a fungus that enters the tree through cuts made from pruning. This fungus spreads during warm, wet weather.

Step 4

Fertilize sparingly. Young oak trees can benefit from an application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer in the spring. Established trees usually get enough nutrients from decaying organic matter left on the ground around the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Pruning tools
  • Nitrogen-rich fertilizer

References

  • University of California: Maintaining Oak Tree Health
  • California Oaks: Oak Tree Care

Who Can Help

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Oak Wilt Alert
Keywords: oak trees, care of oak trees, maintaining oak trees, oak wilt

About this Author

April Sanders has been an educator since 1998. Nine years later she began writing curriculum. She currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social psychology and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education.