The Smithsonian's overgrown Japanese maple was moved successfully while still in leaf; the larger the tree, the more likely special equipment will be needed to dig and move it.
Six steps to successfully transplanting a tree. Top, left to right: 1) Measure the tree to get the rootball size and dig the new hole. 2) Dig a trench to give your self working space. 3) Taper the rootball inward and pile excavated soil on a tarp. Bottom, left to right: 4) Lift the rootball out and wrap and tie in burlap. 5) Make adjustments to new hole as necessary and drop the tree into it. 6) Peel back the burlap, cut the rope and fill in hole with excavated dirt.
- Moving a tree, step by step
Step 1: A two-inch-caliper tree requires a rootball that is 28 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is about the largest transplant a do-it-yourselfer (with some help) will want to tackle. Use a spade to slice the roots in a circle with a 14-inch radius from the trunk. First, though, dig the hole at the new site — better to discover any snags there before you dig the tree.
Step 2: Excavate a trench a few inches wide to give yourself the working space to dig the rootball. Recommended rootball sizes can be found in a manual named American Standard for Nursery Stock. Evergreen and shrubs are measured by height, not trunk caliper.
Step 3: As you dig, taper the ball inward; most roots are in the top six inches. You might have to tilt the tree to expose lower tap roots for cutting. Pile the excavated soil on a tarp, for filling the hole afterward. Break the bottom free with the spade or a pry bar.
Step 4: If possible, lift the rootball out of the hole and onto a sheet of burlap, which is used to wrap the ball. Pin the burlap with two-inch nails — push them through the cloth into the soil — and tie the burlap together near the trunk. Form a circle of rope at the top and at the bottom of the ball, and thread more rope between them. This will secure the burlap and provide handholds for manipulating the tree. If the root structure is sparse and the soil loose, wrap the ball while it is still in the hole to prevent the ball from disintegrating when it is lifted.
Step 5: Before dropping the tree into the new hole, measure the depth of the ball and the depth of the hole, which should be a few inches wider than the ball. Make adjustments as necessary: The base or flare of the trunk should sit about two inches above the surrounding gradient. Check carefully that the trunk is vertical. You can use a few large stones to adjust the rootball to straighten the tree.
Step 6: Untie and peel back the top of the burlap and cut the rope, both of which will rot in place (don’t use nylon rope). Backfill the remaining cavity with the excavated soil. Soak it as you do this to water the roots and remove air pockets. Form a saucer of soil outside the rootball, which will direct rainwater to the roots. Top the saucer with a two- to three-inch layer of mulch, keeping the trunk clear. Tree stakes or guy wires will help to keep the tree upright, but they should be removed after a year or two.
Posted: Saturday, October 19, 2013 4:30 am
Ornamental trees and shrubs can outgrow their allotted space or find themselves in the way of a new patio or addition. By relocating a prized plant, the gardener can not only save a tree but also provide a great focal point for a reworked area.
Several factors determine whether to move a tree or shrub — the beauty and age of the plant, its sentimental value and its chances of survival if moved — but one aspect carries the most weight: the size.
Or, use your
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Saturday, October 19, 2013 4:30 am.