Bur Oaks: Should You Plant This Beautiful, Low-Maintenance Shade Tree?
There are many kinds of oak trees, but most have a tall, narrow shape. The bur oak, however, has a wider crown, which enables to serve as a shade tree. Bur oaks do grow slowly, and it may be a decade or more before one grows large enough to provide shade in your backyard. However, by planting a bur oak or two, you are ensuring that your property will be shady and attractive for years to come.
Bur Oak Basics
Bur oaks can reach up to 100 feet in height when mature. They have wide, fiddle-shaped leaves and stubby acorns with large camps. The acorns of the bur oak are the largest of any oak species and will attract wildlife such as squirrels and chipmunks to a yard. Bur oaks no not typically attract insects and are tolerant of air pollution and compacted soils, making them a good choice for urban areas.
Planting Bur Oaks
The easiest way to plant bur oaks is to visit a local nursery and purchase several saplings. Trees that are at least 5 or 6 feet tall stand the best chance of surviving. Choose an area were the soil is well-drained, but not typically dry. Dig a hole that is as deep as the tree's roots and three times as wide as the roots.
Then, place the tree in the hole and pack the displaced soil back around it. Pack it down, but not too firmly. You want the tree's roots to be able to push through the soil and grow. Water the tree in well, and apply a layer of wood mulch around its base to hold in the moisture.
Caring for Young Bur Oak Trees
To ensure a young bur oak tree gets off to a good start, it's important to water the tree regularly for the first year after planting. How often you water will depend on the amount of rainfall you receive as well as the soil qualities. Aim to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. You can also put up a small mesh fence around the tree to keep deer and other animals from eating its bark. When the tree is 2 to 3 years old, have it pruned by a tree care professional such as A-1 Expert Tree Service to ensure it maintains the proper shape.
Once established, your bur oak tree will require little care. You may want to have it pruned every couple of years as it continues to grow. Sweeping up the leaves as they fall in the autumn will reduce the risk of fungal diseases. It will be a few years until you can picnic beneath its branches, but it's well worth the wait.