transplanting trees
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    danmc48's Avatar
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    transplanting trees

    What is the best way to transplant naturally growing trees? We have a lot of open area on our new farm and i would like to plant a few tree to break up some of our fields. We have a ton of small hardwood trees that are approximaintley 1-2'" diameter and 6-10 feet tall that i would love to dig up and move. Is that possible to do without killing them?

    What would be the best process? What is the best time of year? Would i need to rent of backhoe to do a job like this? I have a 3025e but no hoe for it. I would only do many 5-10 depending on how much work it is. Some of the trees i want to move are pretty expensive to go buy so if i can do it for free with what i naturally have growing would be great.

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    Different trees have different needs but, as a general rule of thumb, you are best off doing it while they are dormant over the winter months. The ideal tool is a nice big tree spade but it can be done with a backhoe or excavator. I transplanted some willows mid-summer once just by ripping them out of the ground and planting them again. Some trees are very forgiving.

    If you Google the type of tree you can usually find out that species typical root ball so you'd know what you'd be dealing with.
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    Do you know anybody around with a tree spade you could hire to move them? Sometimes it's best to pay for the right equipment if you can afford it.
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    danmc48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grnspot110 View Post
    Do you know anybody around with a tree spade you could hire to move them? Sometimes it's best to pay for the right equipment if you can afford it.
    Good idea but the main idea is to do this at cheap as possible. I could just go buy some tree, the nursery near me as their trees 50% off right now, but i really don't want to spend money on this, just time.
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    danmc48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    Different trees have different needs but, as a general rule of thumb, you are best off doing it while they are dormant over the winter months. The ideal tool is a nice big tree spade but it can be done with a backhoe or excavator. I transplanted some willows mid-summer once just by ripping them out of the ground and planting them again. Some trees are very forgiving.

    If you Google the type of tree you can usually find out that species typical root ball so you'd know what you'd be dealing with.
    Problem is I mostly don't know what type of trees they are. There are no mature trees on this part of my property for me to be able to guess what they seeded from. Is there a general rule for how big a root ball should be? How far down do i need to dig?

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    Quote Originally Posted by danmc48 View Post
    Problem is I mostly don't know what type of trees they are. There are no mature trees on this part of my property for me to be able to guess what they seeded from. Is there a general rule for how big a root ball should be? How far down do i need to dig?
    Some send tap roots straight down 20'-30'. Others are shallow rooted trees. That's why it helps to figure out what they are and look them up.

    If they've got leaves on them tear one or two off and take them to a local nursery.
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    It's certainly possible

    We have a large scale nursery close by that uses both hand digging and tree spades. The process for hand digging is theoretically easy. Draw a circle around the tree trunk and start digging. You will want to go as deep as the diameter of the circle. Work canvas or burlap under and around the ball, tie tightly and pick up with the loader.

    It's much, much easier to move small trees than large ones, lol.

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    I was listening to our local "Garden Talk" show on the radio over the weekend. Someone called in about transplanting and planting trees in general. The host - who is a certified arborist - said that it takes 1-1.5 years per inch of caliper (ie - tree diameter) for the tree to get over the shock of being transplanted and to start growing again. So, the bigger the tree, the longer it takes to get over the shock of being moved. His illustration was 2", 4", 6" and 8" trees all being moved and replanted at the same time. 10 years later, the 2" tree had outperformed all the rest. I bring this up to say that you might want to look for the smaller trees which would be easier to dig and move.

    As others have said, take some leaves to a nursery (or post them here) and someone can probably tell you what kind of trees you have and how wide/deep you need to go to dig them out.


    Another general hint for anyone looking for trees at a nursery - open a wholesale account and get your stuff 30-60% off. I ended up buying a "Nurseryman's License" from the Ohio Dept. of Ag for $125/yr which saves me several times that when making tree purchases.
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    Quote Originally Posted by danmc48 View Post
    Good idea but the main idea is to do this at cheap as possible. I could just go buy some tree, the nursery near me as their trees 50% off right now, but i really don't want to spend money on this, just time.
    Many years ago I had replanted a crimson king tree twice before, shown right behind the ballast box. I think it was about 3" in diameter the last time.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Again many years ago, the maple tree behind the building, I dug it up in the woods and replanted it. It was about 2" in diameter when I dug it up.

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    IMO, the trick is to get as much root as possible and make the new hole about twice the size you need.
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