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How to Transplant a Tree

Loveleena Rajeev Apr 4, 2019
Transplanting a tree without endangering its existence is a tricky affair. Leaf through some tips and procedure on the same. Read on...
The very thought of tree transplantation is scary. It is cruel to uproot a tree that is well established.
However, there are times when this is the only choice available. And this is any day a better option than uprooting and discarding it.


Transplanting can be either done by you or services of a professional company can be obtained. Either way, one needs to plan ahead to decide whether this has to be done or not and most importantly where it is to be done. The location chosen should meet soil and climatic needs of the tree.
The time and method of transplantation also need to be given due consideration. Before you go ahead, understand that not all trees can survive this ordeal no matter how well it is done. Hence, in case of a bad turnout be prepared to lose the tree.
Trees have a better rate of survival when transplanted at a young age. This process should be done during early spring before the onset of new leaf buds.
Some experts suggest the monsoon months to facilitate root establishment. However, the best period is considered the tree's dormant stage; December to March, but if its too cold or frosty, then February to March is a better option.


The tree's intact root ball is what will ensure its successful transplantation. As a thumb rule, measure the stem caliper (stem diameter six inches above the ground). For each inch of the stem caliper, the root ball diameter should be about 10 to 12 inches. For example, the diameter should be 20 to 24 inches for a stem caliper of two inches.
Circle out a rough diameter of the root ball around the tree about three to six months before transplanting of the plant.
Prune about ten inches deep around the root ball of the plant to be moved. New roots will shoot from the severed roots. This is done to reduce shock of root loss to the tree. Make sure you water the tree well after severing its roots.
Water sparingly a couple of days before removing the tree. Dig completely nearly two to three inches deeper and around the root ball to keep it intact.
For planting immediately, keep the new hole ready which should be deep and wide enough to accommodate the whole root ball at ground level only.
Else, roll the root ball into a burlap so that it is fully covered. Tie it to hold the root ball and soil together to lessen root damage.
Once transplanted, refill the hole. Compact the soil properly to prevent air pockets in the roots. Make a berm around the tree and water it thoroughly.
Completely avoid fertilization. Chemicals at this stage will only cause damage to the already shocked roots. Mulching will help to keep the ground warm and moist.
Water it well for several months after transplantation. Established transplanted trees take longer to reestablish. Any loss of soil moisture will kill them. Do not expect to see speedy growth after relocation. And for a year after, keep an eye for wilting leaves, leaf scorch, discolored foliage, or stunted growth.
This information is for trees and shrubs that are smaller, about 5 - 6 feet tall or 7 - 8 years old or below. But how to transplant a large tree? To do so, it is best to get professional services hired, for they have the right equipment for this procedure, such as electric or hydraulic spades, pullers, levers, supports, etc.
If you are wondering how much does it cost to do so, it does take a bit. However, there are many factors that determine the cost. Size and number of trees, distance of location, pre and post care, time taken, the use of equipment and man-hours, and survival rate. Typically a large one could easily cost in the range of hundred to a thousand dollars.
Now that you are familiar with this method, go ahead but before you do so, try to find possible alternatives to your plans that would not involve uprooting an established tree.