There are several reasons to transplant a tree. You may want to add more shade to your patio or home, maybe the tree has outgrown the space it was originally planted on, or maybe the tree limbs are too close to the power lines. Either way, you can search for “tree service near me” and get the tree transplanted or taken down by professionals. Let’s check out how you can transplant a tree.
- Water it – To prepare the tree for pruning, you need to water it deeply the day before. Watering the tree, a day earlier helps make the soil moist. Moist soil is easier to dig and sticks to the roots. Water the space around the root ball at least 24 hours before pruning the roots.
- Assess the roots – Next, you need to assess the root ball and figure out how much needs to be pruned. In general, the root ball needs to have a diameter of 1 foot for every inch of trunk thickness. So, if the trunk is 3 inches thick, the root ball needs to have a diameter of 3 feet. If the trunk is more than 3 inches thick, you’ll need a professional to prune the root ball for you.
- Dig a trench – Cut a 1-foot wide and 2 feet deep trench around the root ball by using a flat spade. Place the spade perpendicular to the ground and use your feet to force its sharp end through the root. For large trees, you may need to dig a deeper trench. While digging a deeper trench, you also need to make sure to stay away from underground utility lines. That’s why it’s best to get professional help for larger trees.
- Replace the soil around pruned roots – Now you can refill that trench with the dug-up topsoil while carefully placing the subsoil under it. Top it off with a 3-inch-thick layer of mulch to protect the roots from cold and retain moisture. When you return back to this tree after a few months, it should be growing new feeder roots closer to the trunk. They will help establish a strong root system when you transplant the tree. Check the tree’s health before you remove it from the ground. A weakened tree won’t survive the transplanting process.
- Choose a new site – When you research a new spot for the tree, make sure to do your research and ensure that the soil, light, and water conditions are suitable. Don’t rush even if the new site has enough space for the transplantation. Make sure that there’s enough room above to contain the canopy of the tree when it reaches maturity. The same holds for root growth underneath. It should not affect your home’s foundation and should stay away from utility lines even when fully mature.
- Water thoroughly – If the tree is to be transplanted during the fall season, water it thoroughly during the last few dry summer spells. This helps to moisten the roots and prevents them from going dry and fragile. Next, water the soil around the tree deeply 24 hours before the move.
- Dig the new site – Finally, it’s time to dig the new site. However, this time you need to dig a hole that’s three times larger both in terms of width and depth compared to the root ball. However, make sure not to dig a hole too deep that leaves plenty of room for large voids. Otherwise, the roots will start to rot. While you dig the new site, save the soil carefully and separate the subsoil from the topsoil. After you’re done digging the site, water the hole to moisten and soften the soil so that it can stick to the roots easily.
- Dig around the tree – Get a shove and remove the topsoil near the roots and the trunk and start digging deeper with a sharp spade. When you reach 6 inches away from the pruned roots, the goal is to make a circle around the root ball. If during the digging process, you come across old and stubborn roots, you can prune them off with sharp shears.
- Dig under the roots – When you’ve dug up the circumference around the root ball, start digging deeper underneath the roots. Make sure that you maintain the diameter of the root ball as mentioned above while digging. After you’re done digging all the way under the root ball from most sides, you can gently rock the root ball to make sure that there are no roots attached to the soil. Use your hand to carefully remove excess soil around the root ball and proceed to lift out the tree.
- Lift and move the tree – Use a natural burlap to generously cover the entire root ball and start lifting the tree along with the root ball. Use the burlap as securing points instead of the tree trunk. Here you may need the help of an extra pair of hands to keep the roots contained inside the burlap. Carry the tree along with the burlap to the new location. If the tree is too heavy, you can place the burlap on the ground and drag the tree to its new position.
- Place the tree and fill in the soil – Make sure that the base of the trunk is level with the ground as you place the tree into the new hole. If you have accidentally dug too deep, you can use some dug-up subsoil to match the level of the base of the trunk with the bare ground. Once that’s done, you can fill in the site with the rest of the dug-up soil, water it generously, and add a 3-inch layer of mulch on top.
Tree transplanting isn’t a great mystery. It’s pretty straightforward. However, sometimes it requires a few extra pairs of hands, and specialized equipment and comes with a few risks, especially for large trees. That’s why it’s best to search for “tree service near me” and hire pros for the job.