How to Move a Tree Without Killing It

Want to know how to move a tree without killing it? In this post, the pros at Professional Tree Service, your go-to tree service experts in Biloxi, MS, explain how to properly prepare and move trees

how to move a tree without killing it

Prepare the Root System

You should start with root pruning to get rid of extraneous roots. This process also helps a large tree establish new, stronger growth. 

The best time to trim the roots is about six months before you plan to uproot a tree. Measure the tree’s diameter about four feet from the base. Divide the measurement by 3.14 and then multiply the answer three to five times from the trunk. You can cut away any roots that fall outside of this area. With a large tree, especially those type of trees with deep roots, don’t tackle any roots with a diameter of more than two inches. Trees with deep root systems require extra caution during root pruning to ensure their health and stability.

Cutting the Roots

The next step in how to move a tree without killing it is to work out how big the root should be. Measure the trunk’s diameter again and allow 10 to 12 inches for each inch in diameter. Mark the area in the dirt so that you know where to dig. 

The morning before transplanting the tree, water deeply. Using a sharp, clean spade, dig about a foot into the ground, cutting off the roots outside the circle. 

On the day you plan to transplant the tree, work about five inches outside the circle’s perimeter. Dig to a depth of about a foot or two and lift the ball from the bottom. 

There’s no one right way to determine how much of the root you can cut. However, you should never cut away more than a third of the entire root system. 

Will Cutting the Roots Destroy the Tree? 

Transplanting is always a risk, as it’s a big upset for the tree. Weak or ill trees may not survive the shock. We recommend starting with a tree in good health wherever possible and making sure it’s the best time of year for the move. 

Then, when cutting the roots, use clean, sharp tools and make the cuts as straight as possible. When you cut the roots properly, they should regenerate themselves. If you’re unsure how to do this, you should ask for professional advice.

Preparing the Root Ball Before You Move the Tree

Gently work your way under the root ball and lift it. Then slide a large tarpaulin or piece of burlap under the ball. Roll the roots onto the fabric and then tie the material together. This gives the roots the support they need and ensures they all hold together. 

Plant the Tree

Dig the hole so that it can accommodate the root ball comfortably depthwise. Widen the hole until it’s about twice the width you need. This provides plenty of space for the roots to expand and ensures the soil is properly aerated. 

Keep the topsoil aside so you can replace it after you place the tree. After planting the tree, water it deeply to help it settle. 

When Will Your Tree Grow? 

Your tree will re-establish its root system before it sends out new sprouts aboveground. It’ll take at least one year to start recovering and can take as much as five years to fully recover. 

Contact Our Team for Expert Advice

Now that you know how to move a tree without killing it, do you need advice on things like preparing tree soil for planting? Would you like to ensure that the transplant goes as smoothly as possible? If so, call Professional Tree Service at (228) 669-9388 to schedule services. 

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