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How to Plant & Care for a Bur Oak Tree

oak's leaf image by Marcin Wyłuda from

Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is a large, deciduous tree that is native to most of North America. Bur oak grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8. These trees mature into large, crown-shaped trees, reaching heights from 70 to 90 feet with spreads ranging from 60 to 80 feet. Planting bur oak trees entails careful planning, to ensure room for its massive full-grown size. Caring for bur oaks begins right after planting.

Select an area providing full sun and well-draining soil. Locate the site for planting the bur oak tree well away from other foliage, structures and overhead wires. Pick a planting site that accommodates the tree's mature size.

Cultivate an area from three to five times wider than the size of the bur oak tree's rootball (container) to allow the roots to spread. Create a planting hole in the center that is the same depth of the container.

Remove the bur oak from its container and check the roots. Cut off any damaged or broke and loosen any tangled. Place the tree in the hole at the same height or slightly higher than it was in the container to allow for settling. Add or remove dirt from the hole if needed.

Backfill the hole with the same soil removed. Drench the area with water to get rid of any air around the transplanted bur oak tree and to settle the tree. Add more dirt, if the rootball is exposed.

Place a layer 2 to 3 inches thick of mulch extending out over the planting area. Do not put any of the mulch within 6 inches of the bur oak's tree trunk.

Supply 15 gallons of water slowly to the bur oak two times a week for the first month. Water the tree weekly for the next two months, every other week for the next three months and then once a month after that.


Water requirements will vary depending on your location, soil condition and rainfall. Check the soil to a depth of 4 inches, and only water when it is dry.

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