Transplanting Trees and Shrubs: How and When it Should Be Done

It is well-known that trees are not only great for the environment but also a great way to increase the property value of one’s property. Yet, as we discussed in an earlier post on tree topping, trees can also be problematic when they grow too large. As a tree expands it can pose a threat to a house, or it may inhibit sunlight on your lawn and garden. One of the most common solutions to this predicament is simply to top the tree, but this is very harmful to the tree and should be avoided. A far healthier—and often overlooked—solution is simply to transplant the tree altogether, and in this post we review how and when transplanting should be accomplished.

Transplanting is a Great Way of Saving Old Trees


When should you transplant?

You may be tempted to transplant your tree as soon as you notice that it has grown too large, but this is not optimal and should be avoided (if possible.) In reality, the most effective time to move a tree is in late February or March. This is because transplanting in late winter will allow your lawn to really get adjusted and grow during the entire growing season. Once leafing begins, it becomes increasingly difficult to transplant and results in greater stress to the tree. In short, you really want to move trees only while they are dormant—mid-March at the latest.

What is the best transplanting procedure?

When transplanting, it is always best to plan well in advance. Roughly one year before transplanting the tree, dig around the tree, leaving it in place; this allows the tree to form thicker root hairs before you actually remove it. In addition, you should make sure that the tree is well-watered during this period. Before you move the tree, you should also have the new location prepared for the relocation; dig a hole that is roughly double the width of the root ball and equally deep. Be sure to be clean and precise in snipping the roots, and remove any broken roots.

Remember that even by following this advice, there is no way of guaranteeing the safety of your tree. When you move the tree, remember that it generally loses at least three-quarters of its roots anyway, so it should by no means be treated as a brand new tree after it has been transplanted. Some tree breeds are better equipped for the task of tree relocation, so you should research this in advance. Regardless, transplanting is better for your tree than topping, and moving your tree is arguably the most effective way of keeping your tree while ensuring that it doesn’t become a hindrance to your lawn.

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