Young trees are much easier to transplant for obvious reasons, but also because of the increased trauma incurred by mature trees with deeper root systems. Transplanted trees and shrubs die all the time due to improper removal and installation. For the best chance of tree transplanting success, follow these 5 steps:
1. Transplant young trees.
Large, mature tree will be harder to transport, risking even more damage in the relocation process. Saplings and semi-mature trees, however, fair quite well with the change in environment.
2. Pick the right location.
Understand your tree’s needs when it comes to shade and sunlight, and don’t just think aesthetically. A living tree in the corner of your yard is better than a dead tree on display in the center of your yard.
3. Prepare the location.
- Water the tree or shrub two days before moving to soften the ground. This will help reduce stress to the plant’s roots and keep the soil around the roots.
- The longer your tree is out of the ground, the greater the risk of losing it. Dig the new planting holes first so the roots are exposed to dry air for the shortest amount of time.
- Make the new planting hole twice the size of the root ball. Plant the tree as deeply as it was before moving.
4. Preserve the root ball.
- The root ball is priority number one. You won’t be able to keep every bit of it intact, but try and get most of it. Start digging 6 inches away from the trunk. Make a complete circle around the tree about 10 to 12 inches deep. The purpose is to keep as much soil around the root ball as possible. This will help prevent transplanting shock.
- Wrap the root ball in burlap or some type of cloth so the soil does not fall away from the roots when moving.
- Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the new transplant. This will help retain moisture and moderate the soil temperature. Keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the trunk.
5. Water, water, and then water some more.
Prevent initial dehydration by walling up the soil around your tree to form a small basin to catch water. Be particularly attentive during the first summer as well, making sure your transplanted tree is always getting enough water.