Those Big Live Oaks Are Sensitive
Having a majestic old oak in your garden can add beauty and interest to your home. So keeping it healthy and happy is important. Watering under the drip line (area of ground covered by the canopy of branches) can cause stress and increase the oak's susceptibility to diseases, especially if this watering occurs in the summer when the oak is accustomed to a dry period. Removing the leaf litter can lead to soil compaction, reduced moisture levels and increased abundance of antagonistic microorganisms. Tilling or changing the natural grade of the landscape can damage shallow roots as well as symbiotic microorganisms and encourage diseases. So keeping all these things in mind, planting a traditional landscape is nearly impossible. However, this doesn't mean that having an oak tree means having no landscape. In fact, there are hundreds of plants that will grow and thrive under oaks and they generally require very little care or irrigation. These are California native plants that grow under oaks in the wild. Here are just a few ideas.