Oak trees can be an excellent addition to brighten up your yard. Not only do they look magnificent, but they are also a great way to attract insects such as caterpillars for nesting birds. An oak tree is also culturally significant, as it’s considered a symbol of strength and wisdom by many. Lately, oak trees have been in the news as record keepers of previous climatic conditions across Central Europe.
That being said, oaks also can grow many feet tall. It can be a problem for homeowners with small yards. At Mr. Tree, we’re happy to suggest small oak trees you can consider planting that also fare well in the Oregon climate.
1. Dwarf Chestnut Oak
The dwarf chestnut oak is a small broadleaf oak that grows as a deciduous shrub. While it isn’t native to Oregon, the tree grows well in Hardiness Zones 2 through 8.
The tree grows up to 20 feet in height. Full sunlight and acidic soil are preferred for optimal growth, but they can also tolerate some shade. One of the unique features of this small oak tree is its ability to produce acorns from a very young age, and it can produce a healthy crop when they’re only three to four years old. Even though the acorns are slightly difficult to collect due to the thick growth of the bushes, they work very well for attracting whitetail deer and turkeys. The leaves of the dwarf chestnut oak also last through the winter, making it a great option for screening.
2. Bear Oak
Even though the name suggests a mighty tall tree, bear oak only reaches 26 feet tall. Since the leaves look like holly, its species name, ilicifolia, means “holly-leaved.” In forests, the acorn from bear oak attracts bears, wild turkeys, and squirrels.
The tree prefers sandy but well-drained soil. It grows best during hot summers and also enjoys full sunlight. The growth rate of the tree is extremely slow. It’s also very sensitive to salt sprays.
3. Water Oak
As the name suggests, the water oak thrives well near water bodies and streams. Typically, it reaches heights of 50 to 80 feet but over a very long period. On average, you can only expect growth of two feet per year.
Water oak is also a great option if you’re looking for trees to provide shade in your yard. It fares well in full sunlight but can also tolerate partial shade. It grows in most types of soil, provided there is adequate moisture content. These trees also produce a vast quantity of acorns.
To maintain the shape and keep them in good health, regular pruning is a necessity.
4. Evergreen Silverleaf Oak
Even though this species is not easy to locate, evergreen silverleaf oak is a popular choice for many in Portland. It belongs to the red oak family and is known for its superior drought tolerance. Usually, it grows till 30 to 50 feet in 20 years, but depending on the soil conditions, it can also reach 60 feet.
Silverleaf oak trees are deep-rooted and have lance-shaped leaves. You will also notice a silver-colored covering on the reverse side of the leaves. As a result, the leaves appear to glow when viewed from certain angles. That’s why the silverleaf oak is also regarded as one of the most beautiful oaks within the family.
The oblong acorns usually mature in early fall and the flowers bloom in spring. The tree requires well-drained soil. However, due to the drought-resistant properties, it can survive without too much water during the summers. It also requires bright sunlight for maximum growth. Pruning your silver oak at regular intervals can ensure a great shape.
5. Bamboo-Leaf Oak
The bamboo-leaf oak is native to Asia but also found growing in Portland. It’s popular for its broad trunk that resembles an elephant’s foot. The slender, lance-shaped evergreen leaves at the end of the branches resemble the appearance of tall bamboo trees.
Typically, the tree grows up to 35 to 45 feet. However, depending on the soil, it can also reach up to 60 feet. It’s a slow-growing tree that prefers full sunlight and lime-free soil. Bamboo-leaf oak is also popular for its resistance to drought, heat, and pests.
Annual removal of branches and leaves through pruning is essential for maintaining its wonderful shape.
Best Practices for Growing Small Oak Trees
Here are some handy tips you can follow to enjoy lush small oak trees in your yard:
- Be careful about the location. Keep the growth rate in mind and pick an appropriate spot in your yard. Planting them too close to other tall trees may hamper the growth.
- Use acorns for seedlings. The best way to plant oaks is by using acorns in deep pots. Once the seedlings show up, you can transfer them to the soil in your yard.
- Choose suitable soil. Check the soil requirements of the oak tree you wish to plant. Using the wrong soil can damage the roots and provide poor nutrition for the tree.
- Skip the fertilizer. Not all oak trees need an extra dose of fertilizer. Some species thrive well in soil that is poor in nitrogen. Make sure to consult an arborist before you decide to add nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
- Don’t mulch too much. Mulch is essential for the tree’s growth but exercise caution about the quantity. Adding too much mulch can lead to root and trunk rot.
Oak trees are a fantastic way to amp up the aesthetics of your house. They also occupy a critical space in the ecosystem, thanks to their multiple uses.
There are over 800 species of oak trees across the world and choosing the right one for your yard can be challenging. But that’s hardly a reason to worry because, for every yard, there is a small oak tree waiting to be planted. If you’re unsure about the right option for your yard, consult with any of our certified arborists. We’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.