Moving Mature Trees: When And How To Transplant A Large Tree


By: Teo Spengler

Sometimes you have to think about moving mature trees if they are inappropriately planted. Moving full-grown trees allows you to change your landscape dramatically and relatively quickly. Read on for information about how to transplant a big tree.

Moving Mature Trees

Transplanting a big tree from the field to the garden provides immediate shade, a visual focal point, and vertical interest. Although the effect is much quicker than waiting for a seedling to grow, a transplant doesn’t happen overnight, so plan far in advance when you are transplanting a big tree.

Transplanting an established tree takes effort on your part and causes the tree some stress. However, moving mature trees doesn’t have to be a nightmare for either you or the tree.

Generally, a big tree loses a significant portion of its roots in a transplant. This makes it hard for the tree to bounce back once it is replanted in a new location. The key to successfully transplanting a big tree is to help the tree grow roots that can travel with it to its new location.

When to Move Big Trees

If you are wondering when to move big trees, read on. You can transplant mature trees either in fall or in late winter/early spring.

The tree transplant has the best chance of success if you act during these periods. Only transplant mature trees after the leaves fall in autumn or before bud break in spring.

How to Transplant a Large Tree

Learn how to transplant a large tree before you start digging. The first step is root pruning. This procedure involves trimming the roots of the tree six months before the transplant. Root pruning encourages new roots to appear close to the tree, within the area of root ball that will travel with the tree.

If you will be transplanting a big tree in October, root prune in March. If you are moving mature trees in March, root prune in October. Never root prune a deciduous tree unless it has lost its leaves in dormancy.

How to Root Prune

First, figure out the size of the root ball by looking at the charts prepared by the American Association of Nurserymen or talking to an arborist. Then, dig a trench around the tree in a circle that is the appropriate size for the tree’s root ball. Tie up the lowest branches of the tree to protect them.

Cut the roots below the trench by inserting a sharp-edged spade into the earth repeatedly until the roots beneath the circle of the trench have all been cut. Replace the earth in the trench and water the area when you are done. Untie the branches.

Transplanting a Big Tree

Six months after root pruning, return to the tree and tie up the branches again. Dig a trench about a foot outside the root pruning trench in order to capture the new roots that formed after pruning. Dig down until you can undercut the soil ball at an angle of about 45 degrees.

Wrap the soil ball in burlap and move it to the new planting location. If it is too heavy, hire professional help to move it. Remove the burlap and place in the new planting hole. This should be the same depth as the root ball and 50 to 100 percent wider. Backfill with soil and water thoroughly.

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Transplanting A Big Tree - Learn How And When To Move Large Trees - garden

Our tree moving technicians are trained in our patented processes and operate our tree spades that range from 65 inches to 168 inches. Large tree transplanting often requires the relocation of the tree for a period of time. Our tree boxing and relocation programs allow you to develop a construction schedule to meet the needs of your project.


What's the cost to transplant a tree (big or small)?

There’s no universal cost for tree transplanting service. Instead, tree care professionals use specifics about your plant and your property to come up with an estimate.

“We consider a number of factors to arrive at an estimate for tree transplanting,” explains Travis McDonald from Davey’s South Minneapolis, Minnesota office . Cost varies based on things like the size of the tree and the location of the tree, whether we can get a tree spade to it, or does it required special equipment or large crew to manually dig and prepare the root zone for transport to its new location.“

What factors go into pricing a tree transplant?

Before an arborist hands over an estimate, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of the job, including:

  1. The size of the tree. As you can imagine, moving a large, widespread tree from point A to point B requires more work than transplanting a smaller, more modest tree. In some cases, your arborists may not recommend transplanting a large tree. The larger the tree, the more likely there will be negative effects from root system loss during the preparation phase and environmental effects after the move.
  2. The time. Tree care professionals usually work by the hour, so complex jobs that require more time cost more. That being said, when you work with arborists at Davey, they’ll be transparent about how long a project will take and how they’ll get it done efficiently so you can feel confident about the cost.
  3. The crew and equipment. To be safely transplanted , some sprawling trees will need a team of arborists or special equipment, which adds to the total cost. On the other hand, small trees usually don’t require as much, and make for a less pricey project.
  4. The old and new location: If the tree’s current location is difficult to reach, or its new home needs any sort of prep, that will affect the overall service cost. Or, maybe there are complications like hilly land or a septic system that could impact the job and therefore the price. The bottom line— any conditions your arborist needs to consider to safely remove and replant the tree will factor into the estimate.

How do I find a small or large tree transplanting service near me?

Transplanting is a complex and often risky process, so you want to be sure you’re putting the work in the hands of a professionally trained arborist.

Start by researching local tree service companies, and then check to make sure the company is licensed, insured and accredited. This handy blog post has tips on choosing a company with the right credentials.


Transplanting large trees

A month ago, there was no tree out where Bill and Tammy Wardle's driveway turns off Columbia Road. Now a 22-foot ash rises next to the road.

Instant maturity, courtesy of some really big shovels.

Planting a seed or sapling and then waiting a decade or two isn't the only way to have good-size trees in your yard. Transplanting large trees is another option, and in many cases it's a fairly fast and simple one.

A crew from Davey Tree Expert Co.'s tree farm in Wooster, Ohio, used a truck-mounted tree spade with four enormous blades to move the ash from a low spot in the Wardles' yard in Medina County's Lafayette Township last month, then popped a 12-foot willow into the hole the ash had left. The whole job took maybe 45 minutes.

As painless as the procedure is, though, plenty of large trees end up in the fireplace just because many people don't know they can be moved for reasons like making way for construction. "They think the only way to do it is to cut them down," says Tom Lalik of Big Trees Inc. in Columbia Station, Ohio.

Companies like Davey and Big Trees can move trees with trunks up to about 9 inches in diameter, about 30 feet tall, using their truck-mounted tree spades. Lalik says his company has moved trees up to about 16 or 18 inches in diameter with the truck-mounted equipment, although he doesn't recommend it because he can't dig a big enough root ball to give the tree a good chance of survival.

Those, however, are practically Charlie Brown trees compared with the monsters that Davey's affiliate, National Shade, hauls from place to place. In fact, there's almost no limit to the size of a tree that can be moved--except, maybe, the depth of the payer's pockets.

A truck-mounted spade digs a tree and its roots from the ground using four kite-shaped steel blades, two of which are hinged so the blades can be positioned to encircle the tree. Hydraulic pressure slides the blades into the earth one by one, slicing through roots and soil, until they close like claws several feet below the surface. Then the whole mechanism is raised to lift the tree and the cone-shaped root ball, which can weigh several tons, from the ground.

Roots are cut cleanly so they'll regenerate in their new environment, says Dan Zuk Jr. of Davey Tree Farm in Wooster, Ohio. Moving is stressful for trees, but with proper watering and fertilizing, they typically recover, Zuk says. "Trees are tough, I tell you."

The cost of moving a tree depends on a number of factors, including the size, the distance it has to travel and the topography of the site. Economies of scale work into the equation, too: The more trees moved at one time, the lower the cost per tree.

Davey, for example, might charge $425 to move a single tree on site. Moving eight or more trees under the same circumstances, however, would cost $125 apiece.

The biggest tree spades that Davey and Big Trees use are 90 inches in diameter, which can dig a hole about 4 1/2 feet deep and lift 5 1/2 tons in their grasp. That's nothing, though, compared with the trees that David Cox and his National Shade crew can move.

How big a tree can the Houston company transplant? "We're still trying to find that out ourselves," says Cox, its founder and president.

He can't even cite the biggest tree it's moved so far, since size can be measured a number of ways. He can, however, rattle off a few maximums: biggest diameter trunk, 63 inches tallest tree, 139 feet heaviest tree, 540 tons biggest root ball, 40 feet across.

Most of the trees National Shade moves are historically significant, protected by tree-preservation laws or are a matter of great community interest, and often they're in the way of development, Cox says. Moving one of those behemoths may cost $50,000 to $100,000, but he often points out to his clients that they're likely to recoup the cost in positive public relations "and become the hero instead of the goat."

When National Shade moved two oaks to make way for a new student center at the University of Tampa, for example, the move got so much publicity that the company filled a 30-minute videotape with the TV news reports. The move cost $178,000, but it saved two trees that carried special significance to the community: Teddy Roosevelt supposedly slept beneath them during the Spanish-American War. Appropriately, the trees are now shading a memorial to that war about 300 yards from their original home.

Moving huge trees like those requires some preparation work to get the tree healthy, like removing dead wood, thinning the top and applying inoculants, Cox says. Then a back hoe digs the soil away from the root ball down to a depth of about 4 feet, with workers using saws, pruners and loppers to cut the roots that extend beyond the root ball. The root ball is encased in burlap and field fence, just as a smaller tree would be.

Before the tree can be lifted, a structural bottom has to be constructed. Cox explains the purpose by likening the tree to a wedding cake: You can't just stick your fingers into the cake and lift. You need a cardboard plate underneath to give the whole thing stability.

That "plate" is constructed of steel pipes laid side by side beneath the roots. A steel beam is often laid beneath the pipes and perpendicular to them, so the whole thing can be lifted by crane, jacks or other means.

The company claims a 98 percent success rate, although Cox insists it has never lost a big tree it has moved. In fact, he says moving can even increase the longevity of an old tree, because it's revitalized by good soil in its new site and the fresh cuts that allow its roots to regrow.

"You're actually giving the tree a second lease on life," he says.

Of course, not every tree is worth transplanting. Some native trees like elms bring the risk of disease with them, and others aren't attractive enough to be worth the effort and expense, Big Trees' Lalik says. In some cases, circumstances like the slope of the land or the tree's proximity to a house may make a move cost-prohibitive.

Still, Lalik and Zuk point out that moving trees can sometimes save money. People who are building homes typically pay a premium for wooded lots, but construction often requires removing some of those trees and may damage others so that they die within a few years. It might be more cost-effective to buy a bare lot, then put the price difference into mature trees that can be positioned where you want them after the house is built, Zuk says.


Big Tree Moving & Tree Relocation Services

Tree moving as the name suggests, is a process of relocating trees and it is done for landscaping purposes as well as when a tree comes in the way of a development project. Instead of cutting down trees, the best way to get rid of them in unwanted locations is to move them. The tree moving technique is now being practiced in many countries and you can find and take the help of various professional tree movers for this purpose.

A professional tree mover located in Illinois is Arbor Care Inc. Their office is located on 22264 Pfeiffer Rd Frankfort, IL 60423. This family owned business has been serving the community for 30 years and their main business is tree transplanting and tree relocation. They are the leading tree arborist in Frankfort IL, and are known to provide exceptional tree services to their clients. They have expert tree specialists which can guide and help you in deciding which tree species would best suit your property and how can you maintain the health as well as the beauty of the trees. Before performing any kind of service, they examine your land thoroughly and then give the relevant suggestions. Their arboriculture includes tree health, systemic insect and disease control, safety consultations, appraisals and more. Other services offered by the company include Tree transplanting, GPS tree inventory, tree sales, plant health care, insect and disease control, tree preservation, tree planting and establishment etc.

This company also provides the service of selling trees. Planting larger trees can add character as well as value to your property and the surroundings. They also contribute in making your environment look fresh and clean. You can handpick any tree of your choice by visiting their nursery which is spread on an area of 10 acres and has a wide variety of shade and ornamentals to create that look that you desire. Whether it’s a show stopper for your front lawn or a tall screen to turn an unsightly view into the lush green of nature, as a backdrop for your choice of flowering plants, Arbor Care Inc. can help you achieve the garden of your dreams. They supply and plant trees from 2″ to 10″ in diameter and evergreens from 6′ to 30′ tall.

It is very important that if you want to transplant trees in your garden, you must hire a professional for this purpose because the proper planting of trees helps them in leading a healthy and long life in years to come. An unprofessional on the other hand can damage the trees which will in turn shorten their life. So in order to avoid your time and money being wasted, it is essential that the services of professional tree movers and Transplanters like Arbor Care Inc. are hired. Trees can enhance the value of your property up to 15% and can also solve landscape problems so it is very important that you consult a professional tree mover like Arbor Care Inc. to get the best possible advice and service for your property.


How to Transplant a Eucalyptus Tree

Eucalyptus is a popular tree grown for its timber as well as for its ornamental value. It has been grown in Southern California very successfully but is a native to Australia's rainforests. You can transplant your eucalyptus tree provided it has not grown too tall. One of the limiting characteristics of this tree is its long taproot. After a few years of growth, the taproot will be too deep to dig up.

Remove the tree from its present site. Don't expect to move a tree that is more than 4 feet high without having to do some major digging. The taproot and root system grows quickly and will be just as large as the tree is high. It is this characteristic that helps the eucalyptus tree survive harsh conditions and fires. Dig all around the tree and then down as far as the roots will grow.

  • Eucalyptus is a popular tree grown for its timber as well as for its ornamental value.
  • The taproot and root system grows quickly and will be just as large as the tree is high.

Prepare the new site for your tree. Make sure you dig down as deep as the tap root is so it can continue growing straight down. Remove the soil and place it in a wheelbarrow. Add about half as much perlite to the soil and mix it together well. The perlite will hold moisture close to the roots, reducing some of the stress of the transplant.

Lift the tree out of its spot and lay it on its side on a tarp. Either drag it to its new spot, or wrap it up and transport it to its new site, sheltering it as much as possible.

  • Prepare the new site for your tree.
  • Lift the tree out of its spot and lay it on its side on a tarp.

Set the tree in the hole and hold it straight while you add the perlite and soil mixture. Tap it down as you go to make sure there are no air pockets that will dry out the roots. Add water after filling in half the hole. Let the water settle and continue filling in the hole.

Water the tree and shade it during the heat of the day. Transplanting is very stressful for the eucalyptus tree and it will need special care including shade and water until it is established. You shouldn't even attempt to move the tree in the middle of the summer.


How long does it take to move a tree?

In most cases, trees can be relocated in two hours or less per tree, depending on soil conditions.

How large of a tree can be moved?

We have successfully relocated trees over 40 feet tall with our largest tree spade. In general, CTS specializes in relocating trees between 10 and 40+ feet tall. Other landscapers and nurseries commonly relocate trees using the Ball and Burlapped method ('B+B' or 'B and B') which has a lesser success rate, but is more cost effective for small trees.

Can trees survive transplant?

We have over 90% success rate in relocating trees with tree transplanters when proper before and after care is done. This is much higher than B+B trees as the roots are kept intact in their native soil, maintaining the biosphere of bugs, mold and the rest of the roots ecosystem without loosing up the dirt.

Is tree transplanting expensive?

In most cases, it is cheaper to transplant a tree over 10 feet tall than it is to purchase one from a nursery. Additionally, if you are in need of tree removal, it is usually cheaper to transplant a tree than to cut it down, grind the stump, and remove the roots. Best case, you can list your tree for free, and have someone else pay to transplant the tree to their home. You get the tree removed for free, they get a 'free tree' and just pay the relocation cost. Win - Win!

When is the best time to move a tree?

Trees can be moved year round in most cases. It is best to not move a tree when it is candling or putting on new growth - however - if it will be cut down if not moved, it can still be successfully transplanted. We cannot move trees in freezing conditions, but moving trees in the winter when they are dormant is a great time to relocate trees.

The cost for tree transplanting depends on many factors including size, distance, soil conditions and more. In general, trees under 10 feet tall start at $650 per tree to relocate onsite.


Watch the video: Digging up and moving a large fruit tree


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