Transplanting Established Trees: A Step-by-Step Guide

It is possible to transplant mature trees and shrubs, although the process is not as simple as planting new ones. There are several reasons to relocate an established landscape plant, such as providing shade, creating a visual focal point, and adding vertical interest to the garden. The roots of trees and shrubs normally grow far beyond the volume of soil that can be moved, so pruning the roots in spring or fall before transplanting is essential. The process of transplanting a tree begins several months before relocating it with root pruning.

This law encourages the growth of new feeder roots (which absorb water and nutrients) closer to the base of the tree to help it better adapt to its new location. Moving a tree comes with risks, but when you take your time and follow a tree transplant checklist to the letter, your tree is much more likely to have a smooth transition. 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. Moving a tree or shrub can be a physically difficult task, so make arrangements to have help on hand if needed.

Before transplanting, determine if the tree or shrub likes sun or shade, as well as what their spacing and watering requirements are. This involves cutting off the outer roots before digging up the plant. Some experts even recommend doing it in the fall before the spring transplant. Trench vertically downward around the perimeter of the root ball to a depth of at least 1 foot.

The goal is to cut off all the lateral roots that extend from the tree. Be sure to protect the roots during their waiting period and make sure they get adequate water during the break and just before the transplant. In the past, the standard advice was to mix peat or compost with the soil before refilling the transplant. However, according to Hanshaw, red maples, elms and bald cypress generally respond better to transplantation than other species, in northern regions, in particular.

Trees that are difficult to move (beech, walnut, sweet gum, hornbeam, sassafras, tupelo, walnut and white oak) need larger brushes than trees that are easy to transplant. Evergreens usually work best with a spring transplant, giving them time to grow new roots during the summer. But with a little careful planning and care, you will be able to enjoy your transplanted tree in its new location for many years to come. And in summer, it is not recommended to transplant because the weather is too hot, which puts too much stress on the plant.

Be sure to call 811 before you begin digging in order to avoid any underground utility lines. The key to successfully transplanting a large tree is to help it grow roots that can travel with it to its new location. With a little patience and time, you can help a tree overcome the transition by taking care to complete all the steps before, during and after the transplant. Keep reading for instructions on how to prune, how to repot your tree, and how to make sure it survives in its new home.

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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