Water Gum flowers
small groveyoung oakdead oak
Quercus agrifolia

This evergreen Californian native is tough and beautiful. It's a shame more yards in Marina don't have happy little groves of coastal oaks planted in the yard. No watering when established, and little maintenance required. So much better looking than scraggly lawns and lava rock. Yes, slow growing but worth the wait. From a one gallon size it will take about 7 years for a small oak to begin looking like a tree. Dry season water for the first few years will help speed growth, but should be stopped when tree becomes established.

Oak moths are generally a nuisance, but not going to kill oak trees.Usually, the oak trees recover quickly and there is some understanding that the droppings of the worms on bonus worm population years actually add nutrients to the oaks. A sharp spray of water can be used to dislodge feeding worms. Some years the oak moths will complete 2 or 3 life cycles in a season; others they may not be present at all.

Oaks look best when grown as a multi trunk tree and lovely in small groves of 3-5 trees to create "rooms" under the spreading umbrella-like canopy. Coastal oaks can be trained in to fierce dense hedges too.

Oaks trees are happiest when allowed to keep all their leaf litter. There are important bacteria and nutrients in the oak compost/duff that will keep oak trees healthy for the long haul. Do not rake away leaves or try to grow a lawn under an oak!

WARNING: Regular watering of a mature oak during dry season will promote root fungus and kill your tree. See sad oak tree image at bottom. This tree may be dying because water is being applied regularly to keep the water thirsty flowers looking good. It may have had its roots damaged during construction of buildings. However, if it is a choice between a healthy oak tree and cheap daisies, please consider that mature oak trees add considerable value to your property (unlike the OSH daisies).

For information about good selections to plant under mature oaks visit Las Pilitas Nursery or select this useful pdf about Native California Plants suitable for growing under oaks from Orchard Nursery.

Maximum height
20-70 feet tall
and as wide

Life Span
200 + years


Criteria for Ranking

1 (low) - 5 (high)

Drought Tolerance after first year establishment 5
Wind Tolerance 4*
Frost Tolerance to 28º 5
Surface Roots/Sidewalk Lifting 4
Power Lines Proximity

Cost/Maintenance 4
Disease Resistance/Hardiness 3*
*note asterisk denote species will be shaped by a prevailing wind. Single trunk trained trees need more protection than multi trunked trees. Best when grown in groups of 3 (or 5) for grove effect.
*note asterisk denote species is susceptible to several root fungi - especially when recieving dry season water. Phytophthora ramorum(sudden oak death) has been killing coast oaks, black oaks and tanbark oaks across California. Learn more. Seasonal oak moth caterpillars are also an issue with some years having larger infestations than others.

Location Beach Street has several young trees across from Olsen School that look great. A small grove can be seen on Crescent Street between Carmel and Morse Court. Lots of multiple trunked coastal oaks in groves grow on the Fort Ord lands.