How Much Space Does a Dark Oak Tree Need To Grow?

Last Updated on October 7, 2022 by Griselda M.

How much space does a dark oak tree need to grow and what are the best growing conditions for it? We will answer all these questions in this article.

What is Dark Oak?

Dark oak, Quercus velutina is a North American timber that belongs to the family Fagaceae. This tree has a wide distribution in its native region of the eastern United States. It appears exposed on slopes and ridges where it is exposed to direct sunlight and therefore does not tolerate shade.

Dark oak is a deciduous tree and can attain medium to large sizes. It can be easily identified by its distinct leaves and bark. The leaves are usually green with lobes that have bristled at their tips, while the bark is dark black or brownish-grey in color and has ridged irregular blocks.

The trees can grow up to about 25 meters (80 feet) in height and can attain heights of 45 meters (148 feet) when they are grown on rich soils.

Dark oak trees are very easy to grow, especially if they are grown in their native range of central and eastern North America, where they are adopted.

Because these trees can grow very large, they require a lot of space to be able to achieve their maximum growth potential. So how much space does a dark oak tree need to grow?

Can dark oak grow anywhere?

How Much Space Does a Dark Oak Tree Need To Grow?

It is recommended that you give dark oak trees a spacing of between 10 to 18 feet within each row, and space the rows about 20 to 24 feet apart. This will ensure that your trees have sufficient space and do not compete for resources such as water, nutrients, and sunlight to grow. This spacing will also prevent the oak from overgrowing any small plants that may be growing close by and also prevent any larger or fast-growing plants from overgrowing and out-competing for the oak.

Important Environmental Conditions For Dark Oak Tree Growth

For the dark oak tree to grow well, spacing is of the utmost importance, however, other environmental conditions should be provided to have the best chance of success. These conditions include:

Good quality soil

Dark oak requires organically rich, well-draining, and slightly acidic soil to grow well. Provide your dark oak with this type of soil and it will go crazy. The tree can however tolerate poor-quality soil but will not grow as well as it would in rich soil.


Mature dark oak trees do not have a specific need for fertilizer as they can absorb all the nutrients they need from the soil around them. Younger trees however can benefit from a balanced fertilizer. Provide your young dark oak trees with a 12-4-8 NPK fertilizer in the spring and summer months and they will grow strong


Mature dark oak trees do not need to be watered and can get all the moisture they require from natural precipitation. When your dark oak trees are still young, they will benefit from a sensible watering schedule. Water them as required but be careful to not overwater them.

Light exposure

Plant your dark oak tree in a location where it will get full sunlight exposure because these trees cannot tolerate shade.

Propagation and transplanting

One-year-old, bare-root plantings that are usually about 12 to 18 inches tall are used in plantings. After this size, they can be difficult to transplant because of their deep taproots. So do not wait until it is too late before you relocate your young trees.


Uses Of Dark Oak Trees

In addition to their decorative functions, dark oak trees can be used for other purposes as well, and these include:

  • Windbreaks – due to their large size and long life span, these trees make excellent windbreaks. So it would be important to consider the reason you are planting them when you measure the spacing. The trees are however slow growing so they should be planted as windbreaks as a long term plan.
  • Timber – dark oak produces strong timber which can be used for the construction of flooring, pallets, railroad ties and bridges.
  • Wildlife support – if you are a wildlife lover, you have another reason to grow dark oak in your garden. The acorns from this tree are a good staple food for various animals such as birds. Woodpeckers, jays, flickers, squirrels, whitetail deer and wild turkey would be constant visitors in your garden.

Take-home – How Much Space Does a Dark Oak Tree Need To Grow

This article has provided you with all the information you need on what spacing is required to grow your dark oak tree, as well as other environmental conditions that you should provide the tree with if you want it to thrive.

Another important consideration when planting your tree is to plant a couple of acorns in a hole for every tree you want to grow. This is because not all acorns are viable and you want to increase the chances of getting a tree growing.

Growing a dark oak tree requires a lot of patience because it is a slow growing tree species, however you will be glad you were patient when you can finally enjoy your tree.

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Read more about How To Grow A Redbud Tree From A Branch?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dark oak grow anywhere?

Yes. dark oak can be found in every state in the US and in many other parts of the world. It is a hardy tree that will thrive in most soils, including those with high salinity. It also does well in areas with sandy or gravelly soil.

How wide are dark oak trees?

Dark oak trees are typically 30 to 40 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3 to 6 feet. The canopy can reach as much as 80 feet across.

How tall are dark oak trees?

The height of dark oak trees varies depending on the species. The tallest recorded specimen is a red oak growing in the Appalachian mountains near the Blue Ridge Parkway. This tree is estimated to be over 300 years old and is over 50 feet tall. It is one of only four red oaks known to grow this tall in the United States. The tallest tree in the world is thought to be a giant red oak located in South Africa. This tree has a trunk diameter of over 150 feet and is over 600 years old.

Why is my dark oak sapling not growing?

It is very difficult for trees to grow at high altitudes. They require large amounts of water, nutrients and light. Dark oaks are very hardy trees that can survive in harsh conditions such as the Rocky Mountains. However, it can take a while for them to get established. They require large amounts of space and will only reach maturity once they are established.