Tree Transplanting Tips
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, April 21, 2012 03:45 AM
A question that I get asked quite often is “when is it the best time to move my tree. Now, is the best time, as soon as you can get a shovel in the ground. Transplanting large trees can be tricky especially if they have been there for a long time so if there are no other options and moving the tree/shrub is the only choice then you want to do it right.
Early spring is the best time to move a tree but if you can wait a year and do some prep work this year to get the tree ready to move next year the chances for the trees survival will be even better. Root pruning helps get the tree ready to move, and it consists of getting a sharp spade and cutting a circle to the depth of the spade around the tree. The size of the circle depends on the size of the tree. For every inch of tree trunk you want 10-12 inches of rootball. So a two inch trunk diameter would mean the circle would be 20-24 inches. By root pruning the trees roots this year, the roots inside the circle will produce new feeder roots making it an easier transisition for next year.
When it comes to moving a tree from one place to another you want it to be as stressfree as possible for the tree,. Choose an area that is similar to the current site where the tree is now planted. Make sure it has the same amount of sunlight and that the soil is similar. It is also important to know how big and wide the tree will grow when it is full sized so that it does not conflict with power lines, roofs, driveways, walkways etc. (you don't want to have to move it again in a few years!) When you have found the new planting site, get it prepared by digging the hole.
There are two planting methods depending on the soil type. If you are on well drained soil then an outward tapered hole should be dug that is twice as large then the estimated size of the root ball. When estimating the root ball you want to have 10-12 inches of rootball to every one-inch of trunk diameter. When the hole is dug sprinkle some bonemeal in the bottom of the hole as this will help in root development. Also have a pile of good quality soil nearby to use as backfill after the tree is planted. If you have clay soil or it is poor draining, then the second method is recommended. You don't want to dig a hole because it takes too long for the water to drain out of it which can lead to root rot and eventually kill the tree. Instead of digging a huge hole you only want to dig a slight hole of 3-5 inches up to the hardpan and then sprinkle the bonemeal in the bottom and have the good quality soil near by.
When the new site is ready, it is now time to get the tree ready. If possible do the actual tree moving on a cloudy day so that there is less stress put on the tree. Tie the branches of the tree so that they don't break in the move. Before you start digging the soil should be moist enough to form a ball. Too wet or too dry will cause the rootball to fall apart and you want to keep as much soil around the roots as possible. Dig out the tree making sure that the root ball is large enough to sustain the tree (10-12 inches of rootball (depth and width) to every one inch of trunk diameter). Have a large tarp ready to be able to place the tree on so that it is easier to slide to the new location. Re-plant the tree as soon as possible. Don't let the roots dry out as this can cause them to die. Plant the tree to the same depth it was before.
When the tree is straight, start to backfill the soil into the hole. If you are using the planting method for clay soil cover the root ball with enough soil so that the entire root ball is covered. When the tree has been planted it is time to give it a good drink of water. Mix some 'Transplanter' in with the first watering as this will help the tree's roots. Water is very important to the trees survival. Building a circular berm around the tree will keep the water from running away. The trees roots need to be kept well watered until the tree becomes established which can take many weeks depending on the tree, size and conditions.
The same method can be used to move a shrub. Early spring is also a good time to move perennials with the exception of lilies, iris, and peonies
Jos Van Hage owns two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
· Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
· Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
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