Tree Transplanting

Tree transplanting is not impossible, you can move established bushes, and some trees. Here's how.

Tired of that bush in the wrong place, or that small tree that will block your view when it gets larger? You can move them to more pleasing locations. With some time and energy you have a good chance at keeping them alive, too.

A few things to remember, the younger the tree or bush is the better a chance of survival it has. This will also make your job easier, moving a 15 foot tree is much easier than moving one that is 30 feet tall. Have your final destination picked out, and the hole dug before you start. You will also need to consider the time of year when you transplant. The fall, just before first frost, after your tree has dropped its leaves, or in the spring, before new buds have started to grow, are the best times.

Figuring out how big to dig your hole is a matter of estimating the size of the root ball. For the diameter measure the furthest stretch of the branches and dig a hole at least that wide. The depth will depend upon the variety, and the size. You can figure about half the tree or bushes height as a rough guess.

It is a good idea to check the soil pH and organic composition at this point. The closer in composition to the original plant's location the new soil is the less shock to your plant. Amend the soil as needed. You will also probably want to get some transplant fertilizer for your plant.

When everything is ready, plan on a full day for moving it. It is better to dig it up, move and replant in one day. This will lessen the root shock, and keep your plant from drying out as much.

Water your plant, and then start digging a trench around the drip line, (the furthest out the branches reach). Keep digging, if at any point the tree starts to lean, then prop it up, you don't want the roots to tear out of the ground. As you dig down, try to avoid damaging any large roots.

When you are down as deep as you think the roots go, start angling your trench in towards the trunk of your tree or bush. If needed continue to water as you dig. Eventually you will have a large ball of dirt, with a tree or bush in the center.

Carefully roll the bush onto a tarp, or into a wheelbarrow for moving it. This is a good time to prune any branches that are weak or damaged. If you damaged any large roots while digging it out, you should treat them with pruning tar. Don't forget to treat any branches that were pruned, and any damage to the bark on other branches.

Plants are generally hardy, but sometimes they don't survive transplanting when they are older. You should consider when you decide to move it the cost of replacing it instead.

Now check the size of the hole you dug against the size of the root ball, enlarge the whole as needed. Place your tree in the hole, and add plenty of water, you want to insure that there are no air pockets that could cause problems later. Pack the soil down, and add any of the excavated soil back as needed to fill in the hole.

You should be able to fill in the hole from the old location with the soil remaining from the new hole. You will need to prop your tree up, to protect it from winds until the roots have had a chance to grow and stabalize it.

Water only if it is spring, otherwise, leave your tree alone until the spring, and see if it starts to put out new shoots. Do not fertilize for the first few months of new growth. Excessive fertilizer can cause the tree to fail to produce enough new roots. With a little bit of luck, your tree will be growing well the second year after transplanting.

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