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Do You Move Trees?


Factors taken into consideration when deciding if transplanting is feasible or not include:

  • season
  • tree health
  • tree size
  • original and destination environmental conditions

Season – when to move trees

Early spring (before the tree has started it’s growth spurt) or fall (after summer’s growth and flowering is over). Trees should never be moved when the soil is too wet or too dry, or when outdoor temperatures are too hot or too cold (ie frost).

Health – is the tree healthy enough to make the trip?

Diseased trees, or trees that have suffered considerable damage due to weather or other factors should never be moved.

Size – how big is the tree?

Size is a major factor when considering whether or not a tree can be moved. To understand why, please refer to the diagram below and the explanation below the diagram.

In urban areas and especially on the West Coast of BC, tree’s seldom have tap roots and root growth is principally in a horizontal direction with most activity at a height of less than 2′ (24 in.) below the surface over an area up to (and over) the tree’s height from the base of the tree far from the drip line. A root structure this size provides the tree good resistance against wind.

Considering that the shaded area of the root structure in the illustration above is the actual portion of the root structure that is dug-up and moved along with the tree, the tree when planted in it’s new location will have far less support than it originally had. Depending on the height of the tree (indicating the size of the original root structure) the moved portion of root may not be enough to support the tree against wind.

In some cases Cabling or Bracing can be used on the tree once moved to support the tree while it establishes new roots but this is normally done only on young trees and not generally recommended on large trees where the likelihood of a successful transplant without damage to the tree is greatly reduced.

Environmental Conditions – how different?

Even if everything about the tree in it’s original location shows it as a prime candidate for moving, where the tree is being moved to is another consideration.

Short distances with similar soil and environmental conditions have the best chance for success. Dissimilar soil, or even light conditions may be damaging to the tree’s health once moved.

We can’t stress this enough: always contact a certified arborist before attempting to move a tree.

To find out more about our arborist services, pleas see Arborist Services.

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