Oak Tree Dying?
I planted oak trees from the Arbor Day Foundation about 3 years ago. I noticed the other day that one of them does not look so good. It has weird ridges along the main trunk and it looks to me like the leaves are dying. Possibly related, our rhododendrons which we've had for years seem to be dying off as well.
Based on your photos it looks like your tree is in the white oak group. There are some species of oak that have some ridging or corky wings on the bark. However, your oak appears to have sustained some damage to its trunk. This can be due to being planted too deeply, deer rubbing, or mechanical injury from a lawn mower or weed trimmer, etc. But in looking at the photo it seems like the damage has occurred fairly high up on the trunk leading us to believe that this is some type of animal damage.
The foliage shows some late season browning /spotting that can be common this time of year and is usually not problematic. So no treatment is necessary.
For now, because it has been so dry, water the tree deeply before the ground freezes. Also, apply about a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree making sure it does not touch the trunk.
The problem you are having with your rhododendrons is not related to this tree issue. Please get back to us with photos and more information about your shrubs.
The following link is to our publication on shade trees, http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG61_IPM_Series_Sha...
Thank you for your response. The tree is currently only about 3 feet high, and yes it is an oak. After year 1 a deer ate it practically down to the ground, that might be the damage you saw. I'll water it well since it might be under drought stress.
Due to the damage, this tree has sustained you will most likely have to replant.