Uprooting and Transplanting Trees: A Step-by-Step Guide

Replanting a tree uprooted must be done carefully to avoid further damage to the roots and branches of the tree. To ensure that the roots do not have air pockets around them that cause them to dry out over time, raise the tree back to its original position, avoiding twisting or turning it if possible. Apply soil around exposed roots as you move the tree and apply plenty of water. To support the tree, install two or more stakes outside the root zone so that you can pass tie lines around the tree from different directions. To prepare for transplantation, it is important to prune the tree's roots at least two to three months before moving it.

The more time that elapses between pruning the roots and digging the tree, the greater the amount of time the tree will have to produce new roots and prepare for the change. Push down into the ground with a shovel, forming a circle of cuts 10 to 18 inches deep around the tree. This cuts the long roots and forces the tree to form a larger network of shorter roots. Moving a tree or shrub can be a physically difficult task, so make arrangements to have help on hand if needed. Also, be aware of any underground utility lines before you begin by calling 811, the calling number before you dig in the United States.

Root pruning 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 all the lateral roots that extend from the tree. Transplanting trees and shrubs may seem like an easy task, but many of them die if done improperly.

With a shovel, dig a trench around the tree and cut under the roots and around the bottom of the earthen ball. Early spring (before growth begins) and autumn (after leaves have fallen) are usually considered as ideal times for transplanting deciduous trees. However, trees and shrubs with thick, fleshy roots often do not react well to transplantation in autumn. Get rid of any large or hard stones in the hole, then add a thick layer of well-rotted compost or manure so that the roots of the trees receive a good supply of nutrients. It is also a good idea to add a support stake and tie the tree securely to prevent it from swaying in the wind and uprooting.

Before transplanting, determine if the tree or shrub likes sun or shade, as well as what their spacing and watering requirements are. A wheelbarrow or garden cart makes it much easier to transport a baled and burlap tree to different areas of your landscape. While smaller trees suffer damage when uprooted, like large trees, they do not have such a massive root structure, so a larger portion of their roots remains intact in their uprooted root ball. Wait until fall to begin moving them when they are preparing for dormancy. Transplanting trees can be tricky but with careful planning and preparation, you can successfully move your trees without causing any damage. Make sure you prune their roots at least two months before moving them and use plenty of water when replanting them.

Be aware of any underground utility lines before you begin by calling 811 and get rid of any large or hard stones in their new hole before adding compost or manure for nutrients. A wheelbarrow or garden cart makes it much easier to transport baled and burlap trees to different areas of your landscape. With proper care after transplantation, your trees are much more likely to have a smooth transition.

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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