Fall is a great time to plant a tree. Oak trees can provide shade and enjoyment for many years. In fact, some live for several hundred years. So what kind of oak would be best for your yard?

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Oak Trees - A Good Choice for Years to Come

The most planted oak around Kansas is one that we have the most trouble with, and that’s Pin oak. This one often ends up having yellow leaves with green veins due to lack of iron coming up in the tree, and alkaline soils. But statewide, we have so many other options we can plant and not have to go about treating it with iron and sulfur.

Swamp White oak will do well statewide. It has the name Swamp White because it will tolerate wet conditions. But, it will also do very well in drier sites. The back side of the leaf is whitish, so it’s called a swamp white oak.

Sawtooth oak does very well for us. It’s a fast growing tree. It just turns brown in the fall and holds the leaves. And, it has an interesting sawtooth edge on the leaf.

I really like Shumard oak. It looks like a Pin oak or a Red oak, but it’s much easier to transplant. It has a high success rate. We can plant this statewide. It tolerates alkaline soil very well, and also dry sites.

This one doesn’t look like an oak at all. It looks more like a Magnolia or a Peach, but it’s called a Shingle oak – once used to make shingles. It has a similar shape to a Pin oak. It’s a very nice tree, easy to grow and formal looking,

Here’s the Kansas tree of the year for 2009, from K-State Research and Extension. It’s called a Chinkapin oak or Yellow Chestnut oak. It’s native to southeast Kansas, in the flint hills, and chalky sites. It’s a medium sized tree, and gets up to 35 to 40 feet.

A tree for western Kansas that will grow from western Kansas to eastern Kansas, is the English oak. It’s not native here, but it grows very well. Our state champion is at Kinsley, Kansas and grows quite well. It’s a nice formal, huge tree.

And then another one, statewide, that will do very well is the Bur oak. When you plant it, not only do you enjoy it, but generations after you – even your grandchildren will enjoy this tree.

This feature story prepared with Bob Neier, retired Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.

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