Oak trees are among the most common and widely distributed trees in North America, with varieties that have adapted to almost every type of habitat. When it comes to their use in landscaping, oaks have been underused, overlooked and rejected by far too many property owners, to such an extent that I think of them as lonesome oaks.
The somewhat undeserved reputation of oak trees as slow growing trees has a lot to do with their lonesome status. While most people seem to think that they will never see an oak tree planted in their yard grow into a nice sized beautiful tree, my experience with oak trees is quite different.
Where I have planted oak trees in reasonably good soil, and where these oaks have received moderate and consistent fertilization and watering over the first 6-8 years after planting, I have seen these trees grow fairly quickly into very handsome trees in the same 6-8 year time span. The quality and beauty of these oak trees is superb, and they lend an air of quality and elegance to a property that definitely enhances property values.
There are several keys to success when planting oak trees. First pick a variety that is well suited to your soil type, drainage, pH, fertility and exposure. For instance, some oaks will grow well in alkaline soils, while other varieties will gradually die of iron chlorosis when planted in this type of soil. Seek the advice of a knowledgeable nurseryman when making these choices.
A second key to success with oak trees is to provide moderate but not excessive watering and fertilization. Application of a high quality timed release fertilizer like Osmocote each April will feed the tree all spring and summer. After the first year of frequent waterings following the planting of an oak tree, a good watering a couple times a month from April to October in subsequent years will put your oak tree into a rapid growth mode. A good root system is yet another key to success with any tree, especially oaks. I could write an entire book on the subject of root quality.
A newly planted oak tree with a trunk diameter of one to two inches and 8-12 feet tall can easily grow into a tree of surpassing beauty that reaches 20-35 feet tall in just 8 to 10 years. Oak varieties we have seen prosper in Southern Minnesota include Red Oak, Northern Pin Oak, Bur Oak, White Oak, Swamp White Oak and a number of excellent hybrid oaks such as Regal Prince, Crimson Spire, Heritage, Kindred Spirit, Bur xSwamp White and Bur xGambel.
Consider adopting an oak tree today and change their status from Lonesome Oaks to much loved new additions to your family’s surroundings.