How to Safely Transplant a Tree or Shrub

Trees and shrubs can be a beautiful addition to any garden, but sometimes they need to be moved to a more suitable location. Moving a tree or shrub can be a difficult task, but with the right techniques and preparation, it can be done safely and successfully. Before you start, make sure to call 811 to check for any underground utility lines. Then, tie the branches loosely before lifting them.

Measure the depth of the planting hole using the old soil mark on the trunk, and drag the tree to its new hole. When moving a large plant, it may be difficult to move the entire root ball because it will be too heavy. In this case, it is often okay to cut some roots with a sharp shovel or pruner. Be sure to make a clean cut, which helps prevent diseases.

Root pruning is another technique that can be used to facilitate the transplantation of large trees or shrubs. 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. Dig a new hole in the selected location that is two to three times wider than the root ball.

Moisten the hole with an irrigation hose and loosen the soil to reduce the impact of the transplant. Loose soil makes it easier for roots to adjust and spread. Circle the plant approximately 12 inches beyond the anticipated diameter of the finished root ball and cut off all lateral roots that extend from the tree. Then dig a trench outside and adjacent to the marked circle.

To minimize damage and improve your chances of survival, dig and move trees with earthen balls attached to parts of their root systems. When digging trees, the root ball radius should be approximately 8 to 12 inches per inch of trunk diameter at chest height. Place a natural burlap leaf in the hole and have the roots of the tree cover it. Once you have finished digging up your tree or shrub, wrap it in burlap and secure it with twine.

Lift and load the root ball instead of grabbing the trunk. If you plan to move a tree in the fall, water it as needed during summer drought periods to maintain healthy roots. Early spring (before leaves emerge) and autumn (after leaf fall) are generally considered to be the best times for transplanting trees and shrubs. If you put in as much care into transplanting your tree as you do into growing it, you can maintain its value and beauty.

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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