Slow, to no growth, on Live Oak.

Joseph_R_Hou(8)July 30, 2014

These tree's were planted 3~ years ago. I remember them having more foliage when they were first planted and have since gone through several seasons of very lack luster growth.

The branches seem okay, they are flexible and do not break off easily. Leaves on both trees also appear okay but the growth is thin and scraggly.

Any idea what the problem may be?

Additional pictures:

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Possibilities include poorly drained, compacted soil, and a long list of improper, faulty planting practices. I have only looked at the one image and it looks like the tree could be planted too deeply. Certainly has too much mulch around the trunk. When I see that, I assume that other planting problems are likely.

Get rid of the stakes and wires! If they need to be used at all (not usually), all contraptions should be removed after a year, at most.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 8:03PM
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a tree planted too deep put out leaves and not grow much

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 9:37PM
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@rhizo_1 - I can certainly remove some of the top soil and mulch around the tree base. This was all done by the builder when the house was built, so I cannot speak to any of the other issues, ie..
- How deep the root ball is
- Whether or not root stimulator was used etc..
- Soil compaction

I'll pull the stakes tomorrow.

If the tree is in fact planted too deep how can it be rectified 3 years later? I'm sure the roots are well established by now. Would reducing the top soil and mulch mound be enough?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 9:47PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Let's pull the mulch volcano back and see where we are. If you can post of a picture of the root flare. I'm curious if burlap was left on as well, not that you can do much about it if it was. That is a decent sized tree.

About tree size, it takes awhile for a big transplant to establish itself. Have others on the street done better? Are you allowed to water it and if so how have you?

Also about size, Live Oak does not grow here. I look at enormous old growth tree pictures from the northern gulf area. How big do those get in your city? I'm concerned that if it did grow well in 20 years it would outgrow the space between the street and the sidewalk.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:19AM
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You should definetly remove the stakes now.
Some trees grow slower than others, although i have read that live oaks grow fast.
I have a HUGE Water Oak in my back yard. An acorn from the tree germinated in the spring of 2010 and now it is about 15 feet high. They are the fastest growing oak tree.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:47AM
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Are you in a drought and not watering? Also, they have it planted darn near up against the road. How could it grow well anyway with no room for the trunk to expand without cracking the asphalt road or more likely not being able to expand it's trunk and roots. I would wait until dormant season and dig it up and move it. Get help if need be, so the roots can be pruned enough to make it okay to replant without having roots growing in the wrong directions. That is hard with large transplants.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 12:07AM
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I've pulled back the mound of mulch, there was enough excess mulch to fill a 13gal trash bag. After i pulled it back I found many small roots that were actually in the mulch bed that appear to have come up the length of the trunk to the surface. They are in the pictures. I didnt find any hints of the burlap root sack so it may have been removed.

There is about a 2" plateau of earth (not mulch) around the base of the tree. Perhaps soil from the dug out hole when it was planted? Some of the soil, cannot say what percentage appears to be clay/clayish. Im sheepish to dig out to plane with the rest of the yard for fear of cutting any of the smaller roots. Thoughts? How do I locate the root flare?

Digging it up and relocating it is not possible, deed restrictions require a set number of trees and types of said trees per yard. In my case I have 3 trees that are required in the front yard.

- No we are definitely not in our part of Texas. Its been raining for the last two months nearly 1x a week and sometimes 2-3x. I also water in between the rain when necessary for the lawn etc..
- This particular tree also has a bubbler on it.

More Pictures, you will have to copy / paste them into your address bar to view.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 9:33AM
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I've done some more reading on finding the root flare and planting techniques and it may be safe to trim away those smaller wire-like roots that were growing in the mulch bed and continue to dig down deeper. As it is now, from the first round of mulch removal the trunk has an extra 3" of exposure that it didn't have before.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 7:51PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if you are not motivated enough to take the time to post all your pix..

then i am not motivated enough to copy/paste all your links ...

regardless... what they said ...


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Would it be worthwhile to feed the roots stimulator through the stake holes? They were quite deep when I pulled them out.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:54AM
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joeinmo 6b-7a

if you have clayish soil and it you water it a lot, it will not drain fast enough and cause the roots to rot. Live Oaks like well drained soil. Also it may be planted too deep, just remove some soil from around the base of the tree until you see some roots.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:12AM
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From what I read the OP already remove a garbage bag full of extra mulch, and found the real top roots etc. But why do the "powers that be" have them plant 3 trees in a tiny area in front of the yard? Look at the soil area for that tree. It has the potential to be so huge and they put it on a postage stamp or smaller area. I guess they plan to rip it out long before it actually gives any shade to an ant. How stooooopid.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 8:00PM
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The stooopid remark is pertaining to housing peeps or whoever told the home owners to put all these trees in a small area. I am sorry for the home owners who are supposed to follow this plan.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:07AM
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Okay, I found the root flare. It was about 3" deeper past what I had already removed.

What next?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:48AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Ouch. It's like that at my brother's neighborhood in Houston in strip area between sidewalk and street. It's that thin and I wondered what would happen in 20 years...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Honestly, I'd get rid of the thing now, while it's small. Your yard's gonna be a crowded mess in another 10 years with two other trees.

The other consideration is that a live oak is a very poor choice for a narrow strip like that given their tendency to have large/invasive surface roots. If that thing decides to take off, I give it 10 years at most before it starts heaving the surrounding pavement.

I have the standard issue live oak that the builder planted in our typical suburban sized front yard. It's approximately 12 years old and already shades most of the front yard. If they'd have planted two, they'd be a mess growing together...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Joseph, you should remove the dirt all the way around the trunk similar to what you have done in your picture.
As the others have mentioned, that is a very small space for a Live Oak and there will be future problems.
If you care to replace it, a Redbud or similar small tree would be a much better choice for that spot.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:25AM
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I wish they would let you put 1 live oak with the right spacing in front. They are so beautiful. I can't keep one alive here, in zone 6 very long. I have seen them down south, though. These people go to school and get degrees in what ever they studied, but don't get personal experience to realize they are recommending these scenarios that don't make sense in real life. i sound like an old timer, but i have seen situations like this having to do with other areas at my old job. Different subject, same problem.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:13PM
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