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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.


Use landscape software programs that show pictures of the live oak on your property, and what it will look like at maturity. This is useful in selecting planting locations.


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.

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