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Question
We have just purchased a home with a Dwarf Red Maple Tree planted in a bad spot.  We would like to move it to a different area of the yard.  It is about 10 years old and in good shape so we are concerned that moving it may kill it.  What time of year is best to move the tree if we are able to do that?

Answer
Large tree can be move BUT it is a huge job and they weight quite a bit.
Deciduous plants may be moved in the spring as soon as the frost is out of the ground, up until the time when new foliage is partly unfurled. In the fall, they may be planted once the leaves start to turn color up until the ground freezes.

Digging the root ball:

When you want to dig up a tree or shrub for transplanting, retain as much of the root system as possible.

Older deciduous trees can be successfully moved only if a ball of soil is left around the roots. The exposed roots should be protected with moist burlap or newspaper or with polyethylene sheeting. Every effort should be made to reduce root exposure to wind and sun, keeping the ball as moist as possible. It's best to prepare the hole before digging up the tree you wish to move.

Size of the root ball and size of the hole:

For deciduous trees and shrubs the soil ball should be:

Width = 9-12 in. in diameter/every 1 in. of tree diameter
Depth = 6 in./every 1 in. of tree diameter

For example: A tree trunk diameter  4 inches wide would need a soil ball of 36-48 inches wide and 24 inches deep.

The new hole needs to be TWICE size of the root ball and as deep. Fill with good top soil or potting soil and mulch around the tree with not more than 3 inches of organic mulch and water good. I would water every third day for the first couple of months and then once a week through the first growing season. Water with 1 inch of water each time (place a pan under the tree and turn the sprinkler on and when the pan has 1 inch of water in it stop).
The  success rate will depend on the root damage and the watering. You can even with a good root system expect some dieback for the stress of the move.

It will be a big job but it is possible.

There is a machine that professionals use to dig and move large trees--vermeer tree spade, You can check with local nurseries and they may know of companies nearby that move trees. It can be quie expensive though. To move a tree that large it will take a machine called a tree spade. One of these is the Vermeer Tree Spade. Here is a link to their dealer locations if you enter the name of the town or zip code you live in you should be able to find a dealer close to you. Call them and ask them what it will take to move your tree.



http://www2.vermeer.com/vermeer/EM/en/Y/dealer_locator  

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Jim Hyland

Expertise

I am an expert in Forestry, Forest Entomology, Forest Pest Control, and Forest Health. Extensive knowledge in Identification of insects and diseases of trees. Expert on Bark beetles and other insects that attack forests. Also a Registrated Forester with extensive knowledge in the management and care of forests.

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34 years as State Pest Management Chief in a Southern state. Extensive knowledge in Forestry.

BS with major in Forest Management and Entomology
Registered Forester
Certified Pesticide Appicator

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