How To Relocate a Tree

How To Relocate a TreeWhen it comes to tree removal and relocating trees, Arbortek Trees has decades of wisdom to share. Before you decide to transplant a tree (or relocation of a tree), we urge you to first take a peek at the steps below to protect the health of your tree.

* Never attempt to move a large tree, trees near power lines, or a tree with roots in/under permanent structures. Call an expert arborist to help relocate the tree. Here’s our number to keep handy – 408-288-2942! *

Location is key! Determine whether the tree or shrub likes sun or shade, and what its spacing and watering requirements are. This is vital to the success of your transplanting a tree. For example, planting a tree that craves water next to a tree that prefers dry conditions, their needs will be incompatible.

Stop here! IMPORTANT: always make use of the Call Before You Dig number.

Dig the new hole before you dig up the tree or shrub (once you dig up the plant, the longer its roots go without a home, resulting in lower chance of transplant success).

Measure or estimate the width and depth of the root-ball (by doing a bit of exploratory digging around the plant). The width of the new hole should be twice that of the root-ball. The depth should be kept a bit shallower, to avoid puddling and consequent rotting (especially if your soil has a lot of clay in it).

Do not break up the soil in the bottom of the new hole. This could cause the tree or shrub to sink, inviting rot

Dig out the tree or shrub selected for transplanting. Start digging about 3 feet out from the base, all along the perimeter. Get a feel for where the main mass of roots lies. Also begin to judge what the weight will be of the plant plus the roots plus the soil clinging to roots. You may need someone to help you lift it.

Your goal now is to keep as much of the root-ball intact as possible. The larger the tree or shrub is, the chances of getting anything close to the entire root-ball is slim (you most likely couldn’t carry this size tree anyways, and should call an arborist to relocate the tree). Undoubtedly, you will have to cut through some roots on a mature tree. If you must cut, be sure to make a good, clean cut using a sharp shovel or pruners. Now that you’ve removed enough soil from around the sides of the root ball, you should be able to slip your shovel under and loosen the shrub’s grip on the soil below. After it is loose, lay a tarp on the ground nearby and move the tree or shrub onto the tarp.

Drag the tree over to the new hole using the tarp as your transporting “vehicle”. Gently slide it into the hole, and prop up straight. Shovel the excavated soil back into the hole. Press this soil down firmly and water it as you go, to eliminate air pockets – air pockets could cause the tree to shift after relocation.

Build up the soil in a ring around the newly transplanted tree or shrub, forming a berm to catch water. This will help keep the tree’s roots well watered, until they become more established. This steps seems small and insignificant, but skipping the soil berm may mean life or death for your newly relocated tree!

Spread a 4 – 5 inch layer of mulch around the newly transplant tree or shrub. Keep it a few inches away from the base of the tree or shrub, to promote air circulation and so as not to invite rodents from nibbling on the trunk.

Lastly, water, water, water. Did we mention WATER?. Watering is crucial to a successful shrub or tree relocation. The first summer is going to be extra tough on a newly transplanted tree!

Oh, one more thing…our customers regularly ask “when is best time of year to transplant a tree?” We always suggest late winter or early spring as the best times for transplanting (dormant season), followed second by fall. It is far too hot in summer!

Now you know the best tips for relocating a tree so you can enjoy it for the years to come! If you are afraid to “try this at home” – please call Arbortek Trees. Never put yourself, or surrounding structures at risk, if you are unsure of your skill level.