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How to Care for Live Oak Trees After Transplanting

By Diane Dilov-Schultheis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Live oak trees grow into massive giants spreading out both above the ground and below it. Reaching heights from 40 to 80 feet with spreads up to 80 feet or more and root systems bigger than actual canopy size, these gigantic trees also live for centuries. Known as a southern tree, live oaks grow in Zones 7 to 10 in wide ranges of soils with little care. Following a few guidelines concerning live oak tree care will ensure a healthy tree for decades to come

Do not add anything to the backfill soil when transplanting the live oak tree. Thoroughly water the newly planted tree to remove any air pockets in the soil.

Use a shovel to add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the live oak tree. Keep mulch away from the tree trunk and out as far as the hole width or further.

Do not fertilize the live oak for an entire year after transplanting. Only add fertilizer if there is insufficient growth in the spring and after a consultation with a tree specialist.

Use a professional arborist to check the live oak tree's growth at least every 5 years. Pruning should be done at this time, if needed.

Keep the area around the live oak tree clear to promote drainage and prevent root damage. Do not place any concrete barriers, such as foundations, pools or sidewalks, downhill of the oak tree.

Do not dig any trenches within the oak tree's “root protection zone (RPZ),” which extends one and a half times the size of the tree's dripline (canopy). Plant only drought-tolerant vegetation under the oak tree and keep it farther than 6 feet away from trunk.

Supply water only during excessively dry periods and not during July and August. Never water inside of the RPZ and use gradual all-day watering. Typically, live oak trees do not require watering.

Leave any Spanish moss growing on live oak trees alone, since it does not harm the tree. Remove any mistletoe found growing on it, however, because it can severely damage the tree.

Remove small mistletoe infestations through cutting the area of bark at the location of the infection. Consult a specialist for large infestations.


Things You Will Need

  • Water supply
  • Mulch
  • Shovel

About the Author


Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.