Water Oaks in the Urban Landscape

Water Oaks in the Urban Landscape
By Shawn Doonan of New Urban Forestry in Athens, GA

Water Oaks have long been one of the most dominant tree species in Athens which is attributable to its prolific acorn production, rapid growth rate, and adaptability to poor growing conditions.  Aggressive planting programs in the first two decades of the 20th century also helped Water Oaks establish a firm place in the Athens Urban landscape.

 Water Oak is located in Wilcox Triangle in Five Points in Athens.

Water Oak is located in Wilcox Triangle in Five Points in Athens.

Wilcox Triangle is a small park area that New Urban Forestry adopted — we help care for the trees in this green space. The April 8th, 1922 issue of the Banner Herald, reported that 400 Water Oaks were planted by Col. Holman to line the street bearing his name in what was then the western edge of Athens. Around the same period, other more established street corridors like: College, Washington, Milledge, and Hancock were lined with newly planted Water Oaks as well.

The rapid growth rate that helps Water Oaks become so prevalent in the urban landscape also leads to their demise. These trees, left unattended, often develop multiple upright (co-dominant) stems that are much less stable than those with a single main trunk. Also, with an annual growth rate of 24″ in height and 1″ trunk diameter growth, limbs can quickly become oversized & overextended. Both of these tendencies can lead to stem and limb failures and consequential decline. Furthermore, large limb and stem failures adversely affect the health of the tree by a reduction of food making capability and by exposing the heartwood and conductive tissue to decay feeding fungi and other pests. Similarly, ill advised pruning of large diameter limbs has the same result, and is unfortunately commonplace in trees located near homes or other structures.

 Another view of the Wilcox Triangle Water Oak.

Another view of the Wilcox Triangle Water Oak.


While it is not a Champion Tree, it is one of the larger Water Oaks in the county. Although the life expectancy of Water Oaks is between 80-90 years, it’s possible to prolong their lives by implementing a tree management plan devised by an ISA Certified Arborist.  A tree management plan may include PHC (Plant Healthcare), mulching to conserve moisture in the root zone and to provide nutrient availability, and proper pruning and cable support systems to reduce the likelihood of failure when defects are present. To ensure that future generations enjoy the trees in your urban landscape call New Urban Forestry today and arrange for an appointment with one of our ISA Certified Arborists. We are your community arborists and we’re here to help.

LINKS:

http://athenstrees.com/programs/champion-trees/

Plant Health Care