Oak trees are some of the largest and fastest growing of all shade trees. The trees are not a good choice for a small property. They need room to grow and spread out. Oak trees are available in all areas in the United States and can be used as sidewalk trees or yard trees in places where you want a good deal of shade. Birds, squirrels and butterflies will appreciate you planting an oak. They look to the tree as a source of food and shelter.
Coastal Live Oak
Coastal live oak (Quercus virginiana P. Mill) is also known as southern live oak and live oak and is native to the United States. The tree grows to from 40 to 80 feet in height and 60 to 100 feet in spread. The tree produces dark-green leaves with new leaves appearing as the old ones fall off giving the deciduous tree and appearance of an evergreen. The tree also produces 2- to 3-inch-long yellow flowers that bloom in May and are followed by dark brown acorns. The tree is most often seen along the coast line from Virginia down to Florida and around the Gulf to Texas. It can grow inland, but it will not reach the same dimensions as along the shore. Coastal live oak likes full sun or partial shade and dry to moist soils.
Northern Red Oak
Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) grows from 60 to 100 feet tall with trunks that can reach 5 feet in diameter that grow as a single trunk to a height of about 20 feet and then split into several smaller trunks. The tree produces thin, green leaves that measure from 5 to 9 inches long and turn red or orange in the fall. The acorns are about 1 inch long and take up to two years to reach maturity. The northern red oak is considered to be the fastest growing of all the oaks with a growth rate of 2 feet a year when they are young. The tree is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 4 to 8, from Nova Scotia and Maine south to the northern range of the coastal live oak. The tree prefers a light, sandy soil and full sun
Pin oak (Quercus palustris) is also called swamp oak. The tree grows to 75 feet tall and 40 feet wide. It produces dark green leaves that grow from 3 to 6 inches long that turn russet, red or bronze in the fall. The flowers are a pale yellow-green and bloom in May and give way to acorns that are less than one inch long. Pin oak needs full sun and moist well-drained soils and is hardy in zones 4 through 8.