Why You Need an Oak Tree in Your Backyard

Why You Need an Oak Tree in Your Backyard :- If you ask a specialist in birds or butterflies to select the top three trees that draw wildlife, oak will undoubtedly be on the list. There are roughly ninety species of native oaks in North America, but many are disappearing due to diseases, deforestation, and the introduction of nonnative species. Planting an oak tree is more crucial than ever since native plants provide amazing advantages for animals.

 

Why You Need an Oak Tree in Your Backyard

In our backyard, we noticed a hummingbird nest in one of our oak trees. We watched it from our back porch, where we could see the mother feeding the two small infants. Karen Gerdes, a reader of Birds & Blooms, says, “I ran for the camera and got this shot.

 

Oak Tree Wildlife Benefits

When it comes to providing for your favorite fliers, the oak is quite formidable. The conservationists at Point Blue Conservation Science estimate that over 330 wildlife species, such as acorn woodpeckers and yellow-billed magpies, rely on these trees for their survival in California alone.

 

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About 530 species of butterflies and moths are supported by oak trees in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, according to wildlife expert and author Doug Tallamy of Bringing Nature Home.

 

More Reasons to Plant an Oak Tree

Doug and other experts concur that planting an oak is the best option if you can fit just one shade tree in your yard. They have an estimated 200-year lifespan once established.

 

Furthermore, there probably is a species that is ideal for your yard. Butterfly specialist and educator Suzanne Tilton suggests sticking with natives because those trees have evolved with the local species and will provide the ideal habitat for it.

 

How and When to Plant an Oak Tree

According to Mary Fortmann, coordinator of sustainable landscapes at Openlands in Chicago, a well-planted oak tree is hardy and resistant to disease and pest illnesses. However, do your research to avoid purchasing plants that could cause issues in your community, such as rapid oak death in Oregon and California.

For recommendations, check with nearby nurseries or professional arborists who are knowledgeable with native oaks. For instance, they’ll inform you that acidic soil is necessary for pin oaks.

 

After selecting the ideal species for your area, pick a location that receives at least half of the day’s sunlight, as oaks need light to thrive. Mary recommends purchasing a young tree in a 5- or 10-gallon container that is no taller than 2 or 3 feet.

Here are some things to consider before planting a tree. It’s not totally accurate to say that oaks grow slowly, despite their reputation. Instead, they start their growth underground by concentrating their energy on establishing roots.

 

A few years later, the oak begins to grow faster above ground, extending its branches to provide shade for its surrounds. According to a proverb, “Oaks crawl first, then they jump,” says Mary.

Plant in the autumn or spring. Loosen the earth and dig a hole three times wider than the container. As you plant the tree in the hole, make sure the soil around the root ball—the area where the trunk spreads at the base—is level. Use your existing soil to plant the oak; no fertilizer is required.

 

Every year, add leaf mulch to help keep the soil moist and discourage weeds. The mulch and bark shouldn’t come into contact. Avoid piling it up, as Mary refers to it as the doughnut hole or volcanic effect.

If it doesn’t rain, water your plants once a week during the first growing season. Mary says, “The key is low, deep, and frequent watering.”

 

Enjoying Your Oak Tree

You’ll witness wildlife utilize the oak at different times of the year after it starts to develop. Butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves, which are then eaten by the caterpillars after they hatch and form chrysalises to become adults.

Some butterfly species overwinter as eggs, but many, like the red-spotted purple, spend the winter as caterpillars under oak trees. In fact, some bird species plan their spring migration in accordance with the opening of oak leaves and caterpillar hatching.

Mary’s best wildlife viewing moments occur in the spring when she observes activity in a massive bur oak tree at a nearby natural area. According to her, “it’s like a bird hotel, alive with life—finches, warblers, and bluebirds.

Mary planted a bur oak tree in her yard because she wanted to see the same wildlife there. She remarks, “I like to think about the people who will be enjoying it for generations to come.” “A tree of legacy is the oak.

 

Fascinating Oak Tree Facts

The oak was declared the official national tree of the United States in a poll conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation. With 101,000 votes, it won; the redwood received 81,000 votes. In 2004, Congress formally declared it so.

More than a hundred different wildlife species, including wood ducks, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and blue jays, eat acorns. Even though an oak tree might yield thousands of acorns annually, only one in ten acorns will go on to become a tree.

Make a plan in advance! Make sure the area you select is large enough for the tree to grow to a height and width of 80 feet before you plant. Every year, oak trees grow 13 to 24 inches.

 

Best Oak Trees for Butterflies

  • Black (Quercus velutina)
  • Bur (Q. macrocarpa)
  • Chinkapin (Q. muehlenbergii)
  • Gambel (Q. gambelii)
  • Live (Q. virginiana)
  • Pin (Q. palustris)
  • Plateau live (Q. fusiformis)
  • Southern red (Q. falcata)
  • White (Q. alba)

 

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