How to Transplant a Black Oak Sapling

large oak tree with branch supports
What You'll Need
Pitchfork or shovel

Black oak is a moderate growing deciduous tree that spreads well and has almost fully black bark. New leaves are pink-green, while fall colors are yellow and orange. The leaves are lobed with bristly tips. The rough bark adds a nice visual appeal to a garden in all seasons. This tree is also referred to as California Black Oak.

Step 1 - Dig a Hole

Dig a hole that measures about three or four times the length of the sapling container or root ball, and the same depth. Use a shovel to scarify the sides of the hole. If the sapling came in a container, lay it down on its side and remove the container. Loosen the roots on the edges without damaging the root ball.

Place the sapling in the middle of the hole with the nicest side facing forward. Start filling in the hole with soil. If the plant came wrapped in burlap, untie the covering or remove the nails at the top of the ball and pull the burlap back. Synthetic burlap has to be taken off the plant because it does not decompose in the ground.

Larger trees are usually contained in wire baskets. These trees are planted in the same manner as smaller saplings, but it's necessary to cut away as much of the wiring as possible without causing damage to the root ball. This means you won't be able to remove the entire wire basket, so take away as much wire as you can before placing the plant in the ground. If you cut away enough of the wires to expose a few large openings for the roots, the tree should be fine.

Step 2 - Fill the Hole

shoveling top layer of grass

Fill the hole with soil - at least half the original amount of soil. If the soil has enough looseness, you probably don't have to add any soil amendments.

Now create a water ring around the outside of the hole to conserve water more efficiently and lead moisture to roots along the edge of the plant. This will help outer growth to occur. When the tree has become established, the water ring can be leveled out. It's also a good idea to add mulch to the tree, as trees that are mulched grow faster than those that are not.

Add a three-inch layer of mulch containing pine straw, compost, or pulverized bark over a backfilled area. Remove damaged limbs before laying down the mulch.

Step 3 - Fertilize

Once the black oak tree has become established, you can fertilize it to stimulate growth. Trees require fertilization every few years. A soil test is a good way to measure the soil's nutrient levels and find out if any nutrients are too low.

Sometimes a specific fertilizer is needed if one or two nutrients are missing from the soil. For instance, nitrogen fertilizers encourage green, leafy growth. Too much nitrogen, on the other hand, can cause excess vegetation to grow (stunting flower development).