Can a Tree Survive the Movement?

Trees are living organisms, and even if best practices are followed, there is no guarantee that a tree will survive when it is taken out of one place and transplanted somewhere else. Transplanting large trees is possible with the right strategies, patience, and experience, but young trees relocate better than more established ones, which are more difficult to move, especially if they have been in one place for more than five years. The roots of trees and shrubs normally grow far beyond the volume of soil that can be moved. To keep most roots within a small area, prune roots in spring or fall before transplanting.

Plants that move in autumn (October or November) should be pruned roots in March, and plants that move in spring (March) should be pruned roots in October. Prune roots only after leaves have fallen from deciduous plants in autumn or before buds sprout in the spring. Plants can suffer serious damage if done at other times. The roots within the pruned area develop many branches and form a strong root system within a confined area.

If the root is not pruned, the plant may die from transplant shock due to root loss. Move the plant carefully using a cart, a rented ball cart, burlap or cardboard. The goal is to keep the root ball intact. If the earthen ball breaks, it will break the roots inside and may cause the death of the plant.

Make sure that the plant is placed at the same depth in the new hole and fill the root ball with topsoil. Lightly mulch three to four inches of mulch, keeping the mulch away from the trunk or stems of the plant, and make sure to provide adequate water throughout the next growing season. When a tree is uprooted, potentially serious damage occurs to the root system, crown and trunk. Trees spread their roots far and deep, and when they are uprooted, several of these roots are broken. Not all uprooted trees can be saved, but in some cases you can successfully revive the tree by replanting it.

However, even successfully replanted trees can suffer from transplant shock, so post-replanting care is very important. Transplanting established trees and shrubs is a risky thing because it will damage many of the feeder roots during the transplant process. While most trees require you to dig large portions of their root ball when moving them, palm trees are a little different. If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to move a tree in your project, yours could be one of them. If you have a large tree that you are interested in moving, it is always better to get a free quote to determine the approximate cost. Let's see how to transplant a mature tree so that you can better understand if this is an option for your property.

Transplanting a large tree from the field to the garden provides immediate shade, a visual focal point and vertical interest. This does not mean that all small trees will survive uprooting, but with proper care, a small tree uprooted has a chance of recovery. Roots that have been improperly fixed when planting can lead to slow growth or even death of a tree or shrub after a few years. Preserving a tree is often desirable for homeowners who value it so much that they do not want to see it damaged or felled. One of the worst things you can do to a tree or shrub you're moving is to expose its roots as this will cause stress.

Before digging up the tree or shrub, check if it prefers sunny or shady position as well as any soil preferences and size it is likely to grow so you can factor in how much space you'll need. Most companies that specialize in moving trees provide detailed aftercare instructions and will not guarantee any tree moving work if aftercare is not provided exactly to your specifications. That's why when mature trees grow to a point where they get in the way of developing or building up your landscape on your property, you can do anything to maintain them. Palm trees are an exception; because of how their roots grow it is possible to dig closer to their trunk regardless of their height. Trees prefer different levels of shade and sun as well as different soil drainage conditions. Often times, the tree is growing in an “inconvenient” place for your project and conserving it is desirable politically expedient or required by local ordinance.

Bart Preti
Bart Preti

Hipster-friendly travel trailblazer. Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Devoted tv scholar. Passionate pop culture scholar. Devoted bacon expert. Avid coffee lover.

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