Sometimes you need to relocate a mature tree for landscaping and building reasons, or you might simply want to add a fully-grown tree to your garden for extra shade and a place for wildlife to nest. It goes without saying that transplanting a large tree is a big job that requires a lot of effort and care.
Transplanting can cause the tree a fair amount of stress during the move. Trees can lose a significant amount of their roots when being transplanted which can make it difficult for the tree to thrive in its new home. In order to successfully transplant your mature tree, you will need to help it grow roots that will survive the relocation and carry out the tree removal and relocation processes with care.
When is the best time to transplant a mature tree?
It is best to relocate trees during the fall, winter and early spring months for a successful transplant. It is imperative that you only transplant the tree after the leaves have fallen but before buds begin to form in spring.
Steps for transplanting a mature tree
Before you begin the tree removal process, learn how to carry out the relocation process for the best results.
1. Root Pruning
Six months before you plan to move the tree, you will need to trim the roots of the tree in preparation. This procedure is called root pruning and encourages the growth of new roots within the root ball which travels with the tree in the moving process. It is highly recommended that you do not prune deciduous trees unless they lose their leaves during dormancy.
2. Prepare the New Location
When deciding where to move the tree to, you need to consider a variety of factors. Think about how much space the tree will need as well as water requirements. It is not wise to plant a thirsty tree next to plants that prefer drier conditions.
Ensure the surrounding plants have similar needs to your tree for the best results. When considering how much space the tree will take, ensure there are no other plants that may be in the way of your tree’s roots, as this can affect both your relocated tree and the existing plants in the area.
You will also need to prepare the new location for your tree before the tree removal process can begin. It is important that your tree does not go too long with its roots out of the ground. Estimate the size of the root ball by digging around a little.
Once you have an idea of the size of the root ball, dig the new hole with a width of roughly double the width if the tree’s root ball. Try to avoid digging the hole too deep as this can cause puddling which will consequently result in rotting around the root ball.
When you reach the bottom of this new hole, avoid breaking up the soil underneath. While you might think this is helpful to the tree allowing the roots to grow easier into the soil, in actual fact, it can cause the tree to sink too far into the ground and open opportunities for the roots to rot.
3. Prepare the Tree
Six months after you have completed the root pruning step, you can start preparing the tree for relocation. Begin by tying up the branches to protect them during the relocation process. New roots will have formed as a result of root pruning six months prior, so you will need to dig a trench about 1 to 3 feet outside of your root pruning trench to ensure you capture all the new roots.
Continue by digging down until you are able to undercut the soil ball at a 45-degree angle. Cover the soil ball in burlap as this helps to keep as much of the root ball and its soil intact, and you are ready to move.
4. The Big Move
After wrapping the soil ball in burlap, you can begin to bring the tree out of the ground. Have a tarp ready nearby where you can place the roots as soon as the tree come out. The tarp will act as your vehicle for transport, and you can simply drag the tree to its new location, if it is nearby.
Remove the burlap before placing the tree in the new planting hole you have already prepared. Once the tree is in place begin backfilling the hole with soil, tamping it down as you go and watering it. This will prevent air pockets from forming that can cause rotting. Ensure that you water your tree
If you are sceptical about moving a tree on your own or it is simply too heavy to move on your own, it is highly advised that you make use of professional tree removal services to assist you. They have a vast knowledge of removing the tree and all the right equipment to relocate your tree with ease.
What if the tree is or gets damaged?
If your tree gets damaged during the moving process, or during the process, you discover it was already damaged, you can contact an arborist for help. An arborist is a specialist in treating damaged trees.
You might want to have an arborist take a look at the tree you want to move long before you begin this heavy task. This may save you a lot of time and solve many problems before they even arise during the tree removal and relocation.
Whether you are moving the tree to make space for new landscaping or a new building, or you would simply like to add a fully-grown tree to the existing landscape, you need to be prepared for a mammoth task.
Do your research before you begin and consult any professionals that can help make the move as simple and problem-free as possible. It is also extremely important that the new environment is fit for the tree you’d like to plant there. Happy tree moving!