I happen to live in the midst of a mature grove of California Coast Live Oaks. These magnificent trees arch over our property, and lend a majesty to our home.
There are some half a dozen trees on our lot, and at least 4 of them are huge, venerable, and magnificent specimens.
Los Angeles County has recognized the value of our native oak trees by creating an ordinance to help preserve and protect oaks by regulating how property owners can cut or prune oaks - permits are required. The ordinance even mentions the danger posed to older oaks by encroaching on their root zone and the area beneath their wide canopies.
Older oak trees that sprouted and grew in the wild, and thrived in California's wet winter/dry summer climate are particularly vulnerable to human real estate development. A mature tree may suffer from rot if subjected to sprinklers that water the lawns and gardens of homes built nearby.
Our home was built in the early 1960's, and the original homeowner - who sold us the house in 1997 - left the part of our yard around the trees natural and unwatered.
When we did some landscaping a couple years ago, we laid a stone path through our front yard and planted native woodland plants like clary sage, Western columbine, and Douglas iris under our oaks - all plants that, once established, don't need watering. A few non-native, yet drought-tolerant plants like acanthus add a little accent. All the plants, and the trees seem to be thriving.