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How to Care for Oak Trees

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

Native oak trees are majestic growing trees that are desired in the home landscape. Care must be taken when working the ground around an oak tree to prevent soil compaction around the root system as it is delicate and can be damaged easy. Oak trees prefer dry moisture conditions and can tolerate most soil types as long as there is no standing water around the base of the tree.

Plant the oak tree in a location that has an acidic soil and partial shade to full sun light conditions. Oak trees require plenty of room to spread and tolerate most soil types.

Apply a 4-inch layer of chipped bark mulch around the base of the tree. Leave a 2- to 3-inch gap between the start of the mulch and the trunk of the tree.

Apply a nitrogen fertilizer if the foliage of the tree loses the dark green color. Oak trees should only be fertilized if a problem exists.

Water the oak tree after planting to stimulate root growth. Continue to water the tree every two weeks for the first growing season. Oak trees prefer dry conditions and do not require supplemental watering.

Prune the oak tree only to remove dead or damaged branches or adjust the structure of the tree. Never remove more than 10 percent of foliage at one time. Do not prune oak trees in the spring or fall seasons.

Do not disturb the root protection zone of the oak tree. This area is 1-1/2 times the area from the trunk of the tree to the drip line. The drip line is the imaginary line on the ground that meets the end of the canopy.

Choose to plant shade-tolerant annual and perennial plants in the landscape area around the oak tree, as a mature tree creates a heavy shaded area.

Monitor oak trees for the presence of fungal conks or mushrooms on the trunk, slimy areas, or yellow and small foliage. These are the sign of a disease that requires treatment from a professional arborist.-


Things You Will Need

  • Chipped mulch bark
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Water
  • Pruning clipper

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.