Live Oak Tree, Tree Care

5 Tips to Care for a Live Oak Tree

June 01, 2020
There are 600 different types of oak trees around the world, and North America has the widest variety of species with 90.

You may have a live oak tree in yours or a loved one’s yard and want to learn how to take care of it. When you shower a live oak tree in TLC, it can thrive for generations to come as the perfect family heirloom.

Don’t know how to tend to live oak trees? If so, you’ve got come to the right place. Here are our five top tips.

1. Fertilizing

Fertilizer gives your live oak tree the nutrients to increase its capacity to capture sunlight so it can produce food and energy.

Young oaks, unhealthy oaks, and mature live oak trees that have been re-planted must be fertilized. Add fertilizer to the base of the tree as it helps the oak get comfortable with new surroundings quickly.

Don’t pile mulch against the oak tree trunk, instead create a slope running outwards from the base of the tree so it can receive air and nourishment. You should also leave fallen leaves to saturate the soil when they decompose.

Fertilize in the spring, late summer, or autumn, as rainfall helps nutrients seep into the soil so it reaches every part of the root system.

Apply a fertilizer rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium or one that is nitrogen-based so the surrounding lawn can also reap the benefits.

Also, if you’re planting anything around your oak tree, only choose drought-tolerant plants that don’t need summer watering. Space them at least six feet from your oak tree’s base so it has breathing room.

If the live oak tree has been damaged by construction work or a drought, give it a dose of root stimulator instead as fertilizer will damage your tree.

2. Soil Cover

Covering the soil properly is the key to an oak’s survival. Keep a few inches of soil cover over the tree’s roots to prevent erosion or root damage.

The soil cover should extend six feet away from the tree trunk otherwise the roots will wrap around the trunk and smother it.

You should also look out for signs of a declining growth rate or crown die-back as these are symptoms of root problems. If you notice this, contact us and we will take care of it.

Further, avoid parking vehicles under a live oak tree otherwise it compacts the soil, again smothering the roots.

3. Watering

Young and mature oak trees need little watering, only once a month. You don’t need to water a live oak tree in the cooler months, let winter rain do that for you.

If it’s a dry winter, water your live oak tree once or twice but the water should be gradually released to prevent any waterlogging.

4. Pruning

It’s important to find a tree cutting service that has the expertise and equipment to prune your live oak tree.

Mature oaks don’t need extensive pruning, only the occasional dead branch will need to be removed for safety reasons and to keep deadwood out. Our company knows the importance of pruning young oaks so their branches can grow to be strong.

We will also inspect the live oak tree’s canopy to remove heavy limbs so the tree doesn’t suffer from limb failure. Doing this ensures the tree can sustain itself and maintain healthy foliage.

If the tree has a thick layer of moss, we will thin it so air can circulate more freely. It’s important to note that pruning is best in the drier seasonal months, often around June or July.

You should also be wary about diseases like sudden oak death which is common on the West Coast. This disease is caused by a fungal pathogen that produces red-brown or black trunk cankers that kill your oak tree.

Oak wilt is also common in the Midwest. If a young oak tree is affected, its leaves will turn a pale brown or green and wilt. This starts at the leaf’s perimeter and advances inwards.

Be wary of galls, irregular growths or swelling that appear on oak trees. There are at least 750 different types and they can grow anywhere on the oak tree.

Galls develop when the oak’s tissue reacts to feeding or egg-laying by certain mites or insects. Twig galls may kill individual limbs or, in worse-case scenarios, the entire tree.

If you notice any galls, oak wilt or sudden oak death, call Integrity Tree Care and we will restore your oak tree back to health.

5. Never Tamper With a Live Oak Tree

Avoid driving nails into the oak tree’s trunk. If you want to hang a swing, insert the rope into a rubber tube to create a cushioned layer so it doesn’t rub or strangle the tree’s branches as it grows.

You must also never whitewash a tree, as it’s one of the rules of the Live Oak Society.

That’s How to Look After a Live Oak Tree

Live oak trees look magnificent when they have been looked after properly. You should always fertilize young or re-planted live oak trees, water once a month, and hire an arborist company to prune them once a year.

To ensure your live oak tree maintains healthy foliage, contact Integrity Tree Care so we can inspect and ensure your oak tree continues to flourish.

If your oak tree needs anything from fertilizing to pruning, we’d love to help. Contact us here for further details.