Oak trees are known for their height, their uniquely shaped leaves, and the acorns they drop in the fall. If you have a young oak tree on your property, it's important to care for it properly to ensure it matures into a tall, sturdy, mature tree. Here are six tips to ensure you provide your oak with the best care around.
Keep the soil drained.
Oak trees like some moisture, but their roots can easily drown, especially when they are young, if the soil they're planted in becomes to saturated. So if you ever notice water pooling in the area around your oak tree, you need to take steps to encourage better drainage. Consider digging a ditch to encourage that part of your yard to drain better. You may also need to build up your soil in that area with some new, clean fill.
Let the tree enjoy the sunshine.
There are some trees, like willows and birches, that can do okay in partial shade. Oak trees really need full sunlight to thrive. If your young oak tree has made it so far, then it must be getting enough sunshine. It's your job to make sure that remains the case! Don't construct a garage or outbuilding that will interfere with the sunshine hitting your tree. Also, avoid planting other trees too close to the oak tree -- especially ones that may grow faster than the oak. When the trees mature, you don't want them to shade out the oak.
Keep the leaves raked up.
When the leaves start falling from the tree in the fall, rake them up often rather than waiting until the end of the season and raking them all at once. Oak trees are prone to a wide array of fungal diseases, including oak leaf blister, anthracnose, and oak wilt disease. The fungi that cause many of these diseases live in the leaves, replicating and re-infecting the tree as the leaves lay on the ground. Cleaning up promptly will help protect your oak tree from fungal infections.
Have it professionally trimmed.
When a tree is young, it's important to have it trimmed a couple of times to develop its shape. A tree care expert will know just what branches to remove and which to leave in place in order to encourage the tree to grow straight and tall. Doing these initial tree maintenance trimmings yourself is not recommended, but you should be able to take over pruning duties once the tree is a bit older and has dully developed its shape.
Don't be afraid to water it.
An oak tree can survive a period of drought, but the time without water will slow down its growth and increase its risk of contracting a fungal infection. So, if there is ever a time when there's no rainfall for weeks on end, watering the tree is a good idea. Try not to get the actual base of the trunk wet, as this encourages rot. Instead, let the hose run a foot or two away from the tree's base. It will saturate the ground a few feet out from the tree, which is where the roots are scavenging for water.
Don't bring other wood onto your land.
If your goal is to keep your oak tree disease-free, make sure you don't bring any other wood onto your land for campfires or otherwise. The wood could be harboring insects that spread fungal diseases. If you really must bring wood onto your land, keep it as far from your oak tree as possible and burn it sooner rather than later.
To learn more about caring for your young oak tree, talk to a tree care professional.