Once in a while you have to move a tree. Possibly you planted it too close to a building, wires or underground pipes. Or maybe it just does fit into you landscaping. Or maybe you like me and find unwanted trees and move them. Whatever the reason, if the tree in question is less than 6-ft tall it is a project that can be done.
photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar
It’s best to move a tree in spring, or in the fall in warm regions. I would also suggest a friend helps with the project and that you have the new home lines up and ready for the tree so that it can be placed in the ground as soon as possible.
My grandfather who was in forestry and extremely knowledgeable with trees always told me to mark the tree on the north side and to make sure that the tree was planted in the same position in its new home, facing north.
Start moving the tree by digging a circle around the drip line. This is the reach of the outermost branches. You will want to dig approximately the same distance down. If the drip line is three foot out from the tree, dig down three feet. You will want to dig carefully to try and keep as much of the soil on the roots of the tree as possible.
The tree may be quite heavy, depending in the size of the root ball that you left on the roots. So be prepared for the weight with a tarp and possible a moving cart. Gently remove the tree with to keep as much of the root ball intact as possible. Position the tarp next to the tree and position the tree on the tarp.
Handling the trunk of the tree may snap or damage it. Use a handcart or roller to move the tree to its new position. You can drag the tree but this will knock soil of the tree’s dirt ball.
I water the hole that I have prepared first place, place some dirt from the original hole in the bottom of the new whole then gently place the tree in the hole. Make sure the tree is positioned the right distance in the hole, not lower than before. And few inches higher than it was originally planted is ok.
Mix peat into the soil that is placed around the tree. This will help retain more moisture and the new roots will grow easier in a peat soil mix. Water well and stake the tree in place. Top with more soil as the soil will settle and tamp in place.
Keep an eye on the newly planted tree for a season to see how it is adjusting. You may want to add some liquid fertilizer occasionally to help the tree adjust to its new home.
Note: transplant the tree to its new home as quickly as possible. This will help with transplant shock and you don’t want the trees roots to have the chance to dry out.