It may seem a bit odd to many people to write about fast growing oaks since the common understanding is that oaks are slow growing. In actual practice, oaks can quickly grow into stately tough, beautiful and long lived trees when property owners follow a few simple steps to assist the growth of the oak trees, none of which are difficult or expensive.
If you value quality, consider having an oak tree or two. If you want something a bit different, plant an oak tree. Most people don’t plant oaks. If you love beautiful things, plant an oak tree. Oaks soon become favorites as they become more beautiful with each passing year. If you think toughness and longevity are important, plant an oak. Few trees are as sturdy and long lived as oak trees
There are varieties of oaks that grow more quickly than others, such as Heritage Oak, Swamp White Oak and Northern Red Oak, but no matter which oak variety you choose, it is possible to double or triple their growth rate by following a few simple steps.
Step 1: Reduce or eliminate competition from the roots of other plants. Select a location away from other trees where the oak tree will not have to compete with large established trees for root space, moisture and nutrients.
Step 2: Select a sunny location. Oak trees are sun lovers.
Step 3: Select a location with good drainage. Chronic wet spots will slow down the growth of most oaks.
Step 4: If possible, select a location with fertile soil. Oaks can survive on sandy, gravely soil, but without a doubt, they grow far faster in deep, rich topsoil.
Step 5: Choose an oak variety that will be a good match for the pH of your selected planting site. Some oaks prefer acidic soil; others are able to tolerate alkaline soils. We can help you with your selection.
Step 6: Keep weeds and grass away from your new tree. The use of mulch, weed barrier fabric, hand weeding or careful herbicide applications to keep a circle 4’-6’ across completely free of turf grass and weeds will usually almost double the growth of your oak tree (or any tree).
Step 7: Never, ever let a string trimmer or mower deck touch the trunk of your tree. A white plastic tree guard for the first 5 or 6 years is excellent protection for the thin tender bark of trees from mice, rabbits, antler rubbing, winter sun, and weed whips and mower decks. When you damage the bark of a tree, it is almost like cutting an artery in your wrist or leg. Any damage to bark is a serious challenge for a tree to overcome.
Step 8: Water new trees consistently with measured small to moderate amounts of water. Be sure to avoid super saturating the soil which will stress the tree. We provide a handy guide.
Step 9: Once your oak tree is established for several years, water deeply and heavily every couple of weeks if a long dry / droughty spell of weather has set in.
Step 10: Fertilize moderately, but not excessively. Time release fertilizers are safest and most effective.
Step 11: Choose an oak variety that is zone hardy for your area. Here in the Northfield, MN area, the following oak varieties have shown good cold hardiness: Northern Red Oak, Swamp White Oak, Heritage Oak, White Oak, Bur Oak, Crimson Spire Oak, Regal Prince Oak, Ancestry Oak, Northern Pin Oak and Prairie Stature Oak.
Step 12: Use good planting techniques. We have an excellent planting guide that is very easy to understand.
Consider an oak tree for your property. It will reward you for a lifetime if you follow these simple steps, and will grow more quickly than you might guess.
Northern Pin Oak – Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries