Southern Pride Tree Farm

How to Plant and Care for Big Trees | Live Oaks

How to Plant and Care for Big Trees

When you buy a live oak tree from Southern Pride Tree Farm they will weigh approximately 1,000 lbs per caliper inch of tree (so a 8" caliper tree is 8,000lbs, 11" caliper – 11,000lbs etc.) when in the proper size rootball. Oak trees are very heavy; however a great portion of the weight of your tree is because of the root system. It is vital that proper equipment be used to lift and set your trees to avoid unnecessary human harm and equipment damage, and that extra care is taken to protect the trunk from injury.

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  • How to Plant a Large Tree in Your Landscape

    Once you buy your tree from Southern Pride Tree Farm it’s important for you or your tree installation professional to follow these very important steps before, during and after planting your oak tree. If you or your landscaper have any questions please feel free to contact us, we’re glad to help.

    Southern Pride Tree Farm, Inc. cannot be responsible for trees as soon as they leave the nursery so please make sure you are careful to follow lifting procedures, protect the trunk of the tree from injury and never- never be the person under the tree when lifting and setting it.

    • Prepare your landscape in advance by marking where you want your tree or trees to be planted and calling 811 (call before you dig) one week prior to your live oak trees arriving. It is important to assure there are no utilities or underground irrigation systems in the way before your installer arrives.
    • Your installer will create the hole for planting 1.25 to 1.5x as wide as the diameter of your tree's rootball and just slightly shallower than the depth of the rootball.
    • The protective black liner must be removed before planting your tree.
    • No need to remove the wire basket or burlap. Neither will inhibit the tree's growth in any way.
    • Place the tree in the center of the prepared hole.
    • Make certain the top most of the rootball remains 2-4 inches above grade or above ground level.
    • Before backfilling dirt you may want to look at the tree to assure its best side is rotated to face the view where it will be seen the most, and the top of the rootball is still 2-4" above grade.
    • Make sure your tree is standing straight vertically.
    • Once the tree is positioned and set straight, backfill with native soil 1/3, water in, creating a slurry. Use a shovel to break up potential air bubbles, add more dirt, create your slurry with water, break up any possible air bubbles and repeat.
    • Use remaining dirt to create a ring or berm around the outer edges of the rootball.

    Once planted, the straps, which are used to lift and manage the tree (see example pictures of lifting a tree on our Dig & Prep page). can be either removed at ground level or buried for the time being. DO NOT COVER THE ROOTBALL WITH DIRT EVER!

  • How Much Water a Newly Planted Large Live Oak Tree Needs
    live oak tree berm

    WATER IS CRITICAL! The most important thing you must do once your tree is planted is water it daily, then work to wean the tree from the water over a period of months, and point your sprinkler system away from the tree once weaned.

    • Once planted; a very good way to water is to build a berm, or sort of moat (see illustration to the left) around the outer diameter of the root ball.
    • Immediately after planting, water the tree in by filling the bermed basin with water; this will settle the existing soil around the root ball.
    • For the first number of weeks after planting the trees will need approximately 4 gallons of water per caliper inch (i.e. estimated 11" caliper tree x 4 gal. = 44 gallons) of water per day.
    • The goal is to wean the tree slowly off of supplemental irrigation, and get the root system established enough for the tree to thrive on natural rainfall.
  • Finish Planting Your Oak Tree
    mulching around a newly planted large tree
    • NEVER cover the top of the rootball with dirt.
    • Apply a breathable and natural mulch (Hint: live oaks love pine straw).
    • NEVER place mulch directly against the trunk of the tree. Keep mulch 2-3" away from the trunk.
  • Other Watering Methods to Establish the Live Oak Tree
    • If you choose to use a drip irrigation system on a timer rather than a berm (hand) watering system it is imperative that someone checks to assure water gets on the tree DAILY or according to your schedule. Missing two consecutive days after initial planting could send the tree into shock and potentially kill it.
    • Apply approximately 4 gallons of water per caliper inch to the rootball. (i.e. estimated 11" caliper tree x 4 gal. = 44 gallons) Apply in a manner so all water soaks into the rootball. Hint: Initially imagine you are soaking the rootball to the very bottom.
    • Irrigate daily for 4-6 weeks; every other day for 2 months; weekly until established.
    • Establishment takes 3 to 4 months. In drought conditions for newly established trees, you might add water 1x a week to assist the tree. Again your goal once the tree is established is for the tree to find its own sources.

    Congratulations! You have purchased the healthiest trees possible Direct from the Grower: With proper watering and fertilization you will enjoy the live oaks you have purchased from Southern Pride Tree Farm for many years to come.

  • Large Tree Planting Notes
    • The best soil amendment for successful planting is water. Research has shown no benefit to using other soil amendments.
    • Place no soil over the rootball at planting. Deep planting kills trees.
    • If you rake and irrigate your lawn regularly will want to apply fertilizer to the trees in early spring and mid-summer, adding late summer if you are experiencing a rainy year. Otherwise trees left alone will self fertilize with leaves and rain, retained moisture etc.

Reference: Some bulleted points on this page are courtesy of Roots Plus Growers.

Southern Pride Tree Farm sells very big live oaks:

Featured videos

Dig & Prep Live Oak Tree

Digging & Preparation

Mature live oak tree digging and preparation in the Nursery for transport to the customer.

Live Oak Tree Packing for Transport

Tree Packing

Here we are demonstrating packaging mature live oak trees in the Nursery for transport.

Loading Live Oak Trees for Transport

Loading for Transport

Watch how a large mature tree is wrapped and loaded onto a truck for transport.