Your needs for your yard changes throughout the years. Sometimes you want to expand your house and make more room, other times you may want to add a pool or make some more yard space for yourself. Sometimes it may just be that a tree has outgrown the space in which it was originally planted and needs to find a new home. Whatever your reason for relocating a tree, you may be wondering how you can transplant a tree on your own—and if it is even the best choice.
The Best Time to Transplant a Tree
One of the most important factors in transplanting a tree is to consider timing. Trees shouldn’t be moved in the height of their season when they are used to their climate, soil, and area of the yard (or whatever yard to which they are moving). This means that they shouldn’t be moved in summer. Instead, transplant a tree in the spring to give them plenty of time to familiarize themselves with their new climate. It’s no different than a person not wanting to move from a climate of 80 degrees and sunny directly into one that has 30 degree days with a lot of snow—they typically will not thrive. Plus, extreme heat puts undue stress on trees.
Many tree service companies recommend moving trees in the fall, but this takes away their chance to acclimate to their change of climate or put down roots if you are just moving it to a different spot in the yard. Since winter and the frost is coming soon, it won’t have enough warm, wet, and healthy time to thrive.
Before Transplanting a Tree
So, spring comes, and you want to move a tree. Before you touch anything, make sure you know what you are getting into with the project. Is it even a job you can handle yourself?
Transplanting a tree is no easy task. It requires a lot of root pruning, digging up the plant, creating a new planting hole, moving a very heavy plant with the root ball still attached, and positioning the plant and refilling both holes. Then additional plant care is required afterward to ensure the plant can take root and thrive.
Determining whether you can do it yourself starts with the size of the tree or shrub. It has to be a manageable size that doesn’t require heavy machinery to remove and transplant. Typically shrubs that are up to 3 feet tall or trees that are an inch or less in diameter can be transplanted without taking the root ball with it. Plants that are larger or older will need the entire root ball with them. This means you will need about 12 inches of root ball diameter for every inch of trunk diameter. That is a lot of digging and a lot of weight.
The depth of the root ball needs to be considered as well. You will need to dig 1-2 feet into the ground to remove an adequate amount of the root ball for larger plants.
With the root ball attached, the plant will weigh about 100 pounds per square foot, and the bigger the tree is, the less likely it will have a successful transplant. This is a lot of weight for untrained hands to handle, so unless the tree or shrub is fairly small, it’s usually best to consult with a Certified Arborist to ensure a successful transplant—and the safety of you and your property.
Inspect the Tree and the Location
The tree has to be healthy if it’s going to be transplanted, or it may not survive. While sometimes you may want to transplant a tree to try to help it thrive in a different environment if it’s not doing well in its current one, moving an unhealthy tree is always a risk. An unhealthy tree should be treated before trying to move it if it is unhealthy because of pests or disease to make sure you are not spreading the issues to a new area (plus transplanting the tree won’t take away these problems).
Make sure the spot where the tree is going has similar environmental characteristics if it is doing well where it is. This means if it’s currently in a full-sun, low water area, it should be moved to a similar spot. If it’s shady where it is, it is best to keep it in a shady area.
Even the roots and soil need to be considered. Many Ohio trees have long taproots, which means they’ll be more difficult to dig up and to plant properly into new soil. Shrubs are usually much easier to relocate than trees, and conifers are typically the most difficult types of trees to transplant, and the area the tree is leaving will end up with a significant amount of the plant’s root system left behind, which means repurposing or planting new plants in that area will require more prep work depending on what type of tree you are moving.
Consult a Certified Arborist
Before trying to transplant a tree in your yard, consult a Certified Arborist to make sure the tree is healthy enough to move and that it can be transplanted without harming the tree or anything around it. They will be able to tell you if it is a job you can do on your own or one that will need heavier machinery and expertise. Don’t risk getting hurt, damaging your yard or home, or ruining your expensive tree that took a long time to grow to its size by jumping the gun and transplanting before checking with a professional.
If you do decide to transplant the tree yourself, make sure you call 811 to check for underground utilities before digging to ensure your safety. You will also need to take thorough steps to prune the roots properly, tie all branches to avoid damage, cut trenches, dig a new hole, and dig all the way under the plant before you can even move it.
Rogue Tree Services Certified Arborists Can Help Transplant a Tree
We specialize in Tree Removal, Stump Grinding, Pruning, Lot Clearing, Consulting & Tree Disease and Pest Diagnosis. We pride ourselves in setting the industry standard. We have a very skilled team that consists of years of experience, an ISA-certified arborist, State of Ohio licensed herbicide applicators, etc. At Rogue our mission is simple, we don't want to be compared to our competitors, we want to set the precedent, we want to be ROGUE.