Canadian entrepreneur and philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo once said, “An Oak tree is a daily reminder that great things often have small beginnings.” Oak trees have been renowned as a ubiquitous symbol of timelessness and strength throughout history.
Oak trees are some of the most magnificent trees found on earth. Across the world, there are more than 300 variations of these majestic forest giants.
They’re often favored over pines in landscaping because of their large, stocky bases, but oaks are also vulnerable to disease, illness, and stress. So if you have oak trees in your backyard, keep in mind these five tips on how to take care of oak tree health.
Fertilizing is the first and foremost step toward taking your care of your oak tree. A mature oak tree doesn’t need to be fertilized under natural or undamaged conditions. However, if there has been planting, uprooting, or nearby land disturbance, it’s essential to add some fertilizer to the tree base. It will help the oak tree grow faster in its new environment.
Fertilizer is also essential for the survival of infected trees, which may require additional nutrients. The fertilization of an oak controls the minerals phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. These are needed for greener, richer foliage. Making sure your tree has enough minerals and nutrients to grow healthy branches and leaves will increase its ability to capture sunlight and generate food and energy.
Soil cover is the second aid you can give to oak tree health and survival. Nutrients, minerals, water, air, and gases are present in the soil, and these will nurture the tree.
It’s vital to keep a few inches of soil over the tree’s roots to prevent erosion or root damage. This covering of soil should start about six inches from the tree trunk and shouldn’t cover the bark. You don’t want the rootstocks to become enclosed.
It’s crucial to remember that planting under the canopy of the oak should be avoided. Azaleas and rhododendrons would be especially harmful because they need a different type of soil and can spread infectious diseases.
If you need to plant something, plant shrubs or trees that thrive with similar soil and water requirements. Native plants like currants (Ribes species) or coral bells are both viable options.
Prevent compaction of the soil around oaks too. Heavy machinery used in construction may damage the root structure permanently.
Last but not least, don’t use rocks around the base of oak trees. Stones and pebbles will absorb moisture and may kill the tree by fungus.
As far as watering oak trees is concerned, less is more. Oaks enjoy a natural seasonal change, which means they need minimal additional watering. Even during a dry summer, one or two soakings is enough. An oak shouldn’t be watered more than once a month under any circumstances, though if a tree is uprooted or grafted, there may be some extra measures that will help your oak tree survive.
Also, avoid placing plants that need a lot of water near oaks, as their requirements won’t align with the oak trees’ needs. This will harm the trees in the long run.
Young oak trees may need watering once or twice a month to develop in dry seasons, but mature oaks need less. Giving mature oak trees additional, unneeded watering can create a stable environment for pathogens, causing disease. Too much moisture also contributes to oak root decay, whether due to too much rain or well-intentioned irrigation. It can also feed Phytophthora variorum, the fungus affiliated with the sudden oak death, which flourishes in cold, foggy coastal weather.
Typically, oak trees require limited pruning, making them a perfect fit for homeowners and property owners who don’t want to spend much time in their lawn maintenance. But while mature oaks don’t necessarily require any pruning, sometimes dead branches or cleaned-off twigs need to be removed.
Pruning less mature oaks is very important so that their branches can grow to be large and the canopies and foliage can expand. In this case, oak trees should be pruned mostly during their dormant period, that is, in the winter. And be careful you don’t over prune your oak tree.
Because of the sheer complexity of pruning, a specialist who’s familiar with proper procedures and techniques should be considered. Think about contacting an arborist to ensure the pruning is done correctly.
There is a risk that harmful diseases and insects could damage an oak tree’s health. So regular visual inspections of the bark, leaves, and other areas of a tree are important. The growth of fissures in the bark usually signifies that a tree is healthy. However, discolored or loose bark indicates that the tree is infected or prone to disease. Oak bark should maintain a brownish-green appearance.
If you encounter discolored patches on your oak tree, it could be indicative of disease. In this case you, should try to eliminate the concerning area. Removing is not always an option, especially if the infection has expanded throughout the entire tree or into the upper portion, where it’s not easily approachable. But if you see damage on any small approachable branches, it’s best to remove it when you can to save your oak tree from further damage.
Need a hand to make sure the work is done right? Let Mr. Tree care for your majestic oak trees. With more than 30 years of residential and commercial tree care service experience, we believe in quality service, customer satisfaction, and professionalism.
Our professional arborists will examine your oak trees, find and remedy any problems, manage regular maintenance, and provide you with guidance on the best way to take care of your trees. Just give us a call, and we’ll inspect your trees and give you peace of mind.