landscaping

Tree 101: How and When to Transplant a Tree

Do you want to plant a row of pine trees as a wind break, or just move or add a tree to your landscape? Planning how and when to transplant a tree from one spot in the yard to another doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Take some time to consider where you want to put your trees, do it during the right season, roll up your sleeves and get digging.

When and Where Should Trees Be Transplanted?

The spring is the best time to transplant, and fall is the second-best time. If your winters are mild and you can dig the ground in winter, then you can transplant trees then. Planting during the summer months stresses the tree's roots by drying them out too quickly, creating the likelihood your tree could die. Location is another factor to consider. Find out if your tree loves sun or shade, how much space it needs and whether it likes wet or dry soil.

How Big Should the Hole Be for a Tree?

Always dig the new hole before exposing the roots of the tree you are transplanting. Dig the hole with a sharp shovel or spade two to three times as wide as the root ball. The depth of the hole should be about 2 feet. Place the dirt on a tarp to make it easier to replace. If there is clay in your soil, rough up the sides so the dirt is not packed tightly. Don't loosen the dirt in the bottom of the hole, as that can create air pockets around the roots and cause water to run away from the roots.

How Do You Put in the New Tree?

If you have a tree from a nursery, cut away the burlap bag exposing the root ball and set it gently in the hole, making sure it's standing straight. If you are moving a tree from one spot in the yard to another, then there is a little more work to do. Dig at least 3 feet away from the base of the tree. After exposing the roots, you may have to cut some of the long tap or feeder roots and leave the root ball intact. Have someone help lift and carry, use a wheelbarrow or place it on a tarp and drag it to the new hole. Set it gently, making sure it's standing straight. Shovel dirt around the roots, gently tamping the dirt and watering as you go. Mound the dirt with a ring left around the base of the tree.

How Much Water Is Needed for a Newly Planted Tree?

Mulching helps to retain moisture. Add a couple of inches of mulch around the mound but not against the base of the tree. You need to water deeply. Try leaving your water hose at a slow trickle placed in the ring you made around the tree. Let it run for several hours. Do this frequently especially during hot weather.

Always call your local utility company first to make sure there are no underground power lines in the area where you want to dig. The first year is the most important time for your tree, so be sure to give it plenty of water. It is usually not necessary to fertilize, as the tree should get enough nutrients from the soil. Now that you know how and when to transplant your trees, what's stopping you?

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