I love Oak trees. Especially our evergreen Coast Live Oak – Quercus agrifolia. I was hiking this morning beneath a hillside of Oaks that rose high above me. Wandering along the path, bird songs filled the air and I wanted to stop and just be still with it. Sister Arlene used to say that about the simple and the profound things of life: Be Still With It. So I stood, listened and watched in this shady cathedral and I think I understand why the native americans considered places like this sacred.
Oaks are just about the biggest bang for your landscape buck that I can think of – hardy, majestic, long lived, important habitat, low maintenance, and then of course there is the sustainable low to no water part of the equation. Pretty much a win-win in my mind.
People often think of them as slow growers, this is not the case, they are an average grower. Not fast but definitely not slow.
I was at the nursery with a client last year showing him some trees when he fell in love with the large specimen Oaks. I was thrilled. We chose a 48 inch box multi-trunked specimen that was 17 ft tall. This is ‘instant tree’. His neighbors commented that he must have come into some serious money when they saw the size of this specimen in his front yard. I thought about that, and the neighbors are wrong. That tree cost less that a new refrigerator. And that includes the delivery, the crane and the guys digging the hole. I grant you, a nice side by side refrigerator, but still… That tree also added thousands of dollars in value to his real estate. When is the last time a household appliance has ever added thousands of dollars or curb appeal to your home?
The tree was delivered on a cool and cloudy morning – good planting weather. We were ready with a hole that had been dug twice the width of the root ball (8 ft. x 8 ft.) and a bit shy of being equal in depth. That measurement for our tree was about 40″. This is important; the tree must sit just above the finish grade an inch or two. One sure way to kill a tree is to plant it too deep.
The tree is placed in the planting hole with the box still on it, once it is positioned, the steel bands that hold the box together are cut and the sides easily removed.
The backfill is the native soil preferably without added amendments. If you must add amendments keep them to the minimum needed to provide enough soil to fill the hole. And water in well. The establishment period requires a good amount of water. That tree had a huge canopy and a rootball only 48 inches square. Once established, this tree will be fine with little to no irrigation depending on the rainfall, but until then it does need water, and of course good drainage is essential.