Care of California Native Oaks
Many people are moving into the area and finding native vegetation that they are not familiar with. It seems a hard concept to grasp, but native plants don’t usually need to be watered! If you have become a new resident on a property dotted with native oak trees, please resist the temptation to plant a lawn under the oaks that surround your new house. Chewing up the soil beneath your oak tree and planting something like impatiens in a bordered, tidy garden is like signing a death warrant for the tree.
Oaks evolved to thrive in a dry environment; watering lawn or ornamentals planted underneath an oak tree also means watering the oak tree, and that will eventually kill it. It is very important to avoid disturbing the soil or watering anywhere within what is called the canopy drip line of the tree.
Check this: “…trees may be adversely effected by supplemental watering during this period since warm-moist conditions can favor harmful diseases. It is particularly critical that the trunks of oak trees remain dry.” —Maintaining Oak Tree Health, California Oak Mortality Task Force.
Live oak tree in El Dorado County. Photo © Debra Ayres.
Get a free 16-page booklet about Living Among the Oaks (pdf) published by the University of California Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources.