Red Oak Tree dying?


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Hello everyone,

I had two red oak trees that were planted in Jan 2022 in Texas. The leaves were good from April to August but over the past 2 months they have been turning brown and falling. My other oak tree in front yard recovered and now looks healthy. The trees have a sprinkler and are watered everyday. I don't think it is overwatering as soil seems ok and landscape is at an incline. They both receive the same amount of water daily. I have been using scott's weed and feed for the lawn every 3 months but only at recommended amount with a spreader. I have not added any other fertilizers or chemical.

I attached pictures of both the unhealthy oak tree (1-3) and healthy oak tree (4) at the front of the house for comparison. Any suggestions?

Thank you
 

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Meadowlark

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I would suspect first and foremost the weed and feed fertilizer. That stuff is hell on new trees and even can harm old established trees. If that is the cause, not much you can do except absolutely do not use it anywhere the runoff could get to the roots of the new trees. If that incline flows towards the new trees as it appears, it is almost certainly the cause. It's possible that the new trees may recover some next year especially if we get our typical fall/winter monsoon like rains which will tend to wash out that poisonous fertilizer. If I had a dime for every tree that stuff has killed, I'd be a wealthy cowboy. I truly hate that product!!

Second suspect, to me is your timeline lines up with the worst drought we have had in Texas in the last decade. Extremely dry through August when we finally started getting some rain. Those oaks need deep watering and might not be getting it with your sprinklers. The fact that your other oak recovered could indicate that the good rains we got a few weeks back provided that deep watering.
 
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It is the first of Fall. These are young trees and no two trees are genetically the same. I think the "unhealthy" one is just its leaves changing color and I will bet the other will soon do the same. I would also say that this has been a super dry and hot year and the early leaf die off is normal. Perhaps the other tree got more water because who knows what is happening underground with water? Red Oak trees do not like a lot of water which is why you don't normally see them in lowlands such as creek bottoms. Mostly you see them on hillsides and hilltops. And please, stop with the weed and feed. It says it will not harm trees but after prolonged use it certainly does. If you want a beautiful lawn and healthy trees stop with the Scotts/Miracle Gro garbage products. Use a good fertilizer like Medina Grow N Green as it works for all plants including ornamentals, vegetables, shrubs and trees.
 
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Thank you for the replies. I also suspect it is the the weed and feed that caused this. I threw away the rest in trash.

Should I go ahead and try deep watering with a hose for 5 minutes a day or just leave it alone a see what happens?

The tree has a sprinkler that flows water next to it for 2 minutes a day (attached picture) on top of what the lawn sprinklers provide for 8 mins a day.
 

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Thank you for the replies. I also suspect it is the the weed and feed. I threw away the rest in trash.

Should I go ahead and try deep watering with a hose for 5 minutes a day or just leave it alone a see what happens?

The tree has a sprinkler that flows water next to it for 2 minutes a day on top of what the lawn sprinklers provide for 8 mins a day. Similar to the picture I attached.
A trees root system which absorbs water and nutrients extends out to the drip line of the tree and down to an unknown depth. It takes a LOT of water to properly water a tree. Having said this a Red Oak requires less water than most other trees of the same size. On a newly planted tree such as yours what I would do is get a soaker hose and lay it in concentric circles around the tree out to the dripline and let it run for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably for 8 hours. This will give you a deep thorough watering especially in your type of soil. Those sprinkler heads are designed for grass and do a good job of watering down to a limited depth, but, not a deep watering. In the picture it shows a sprinkler head that might put out about 10 gallons per minute. The way it is now is a lot of water in a small area. Sure, it expands outward but most of the water will go straight down. A tree should be watered slowly to avoid runoff and for a long time to ensure ALL of the soil is moistened and ALL of the roots as well out to the dripline. Remember this: Too much water will NOT kill a plant but watering too often will. It isn't the amount of water that kills, it is the lack of oxygen. And as long as you have good drainage you don't have to worry about overwatering. A young tree such as yours should be watered thoroughly about ever 2 weeks until well established and with proper fertilization it will take about 6-9 months for the roots to grow outward enough to reduce the amount of watering to about once per month.. I have a bunch of red oaks that have never been watered and some of them are 60 feet tall and are probably at least 50 years old. On an established red oak it is better to underwater than to overwater
 
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The slow deep watering once every 2 weeks makes sense. I will try out the soaker hose today and see if it makes any difference.
Thanks.
 
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The slow deep watering once every 2 weeks makes sense. I will try out the soaker hose today and see if it makes any difference.
Thanks.
It won't do anything you can visually see until next spring as it won't change anything about the leaf situation but it will definitely help with the overall health of the trees, especially if you fertilize with a good fertilizer and then next spring watch for rapid lush growth.
 

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