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Preparing Your Small Tree (up to 4 metres) for Transplanting

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Moving a tree can be quite an intensive process and, depending on the tree, it can be extremely challenging to do it successfully. Unless it is necessary to move the tree, don’t, as it puts a lot of stress on the tree to undergo the process of being transplanted. If you have to move the tree, there are a few ways to make it as easy as possible on the tree, which will also increase the chances that it will survive. The following are a few things you should do to prepare your tree to be transplanted.

Check Transplantability

Before you do anything, you should check to see if it is even possible to successfully transplant your tree. Some trees are almost impossible to transplant without them suffering from a massive stress reaction and dying, so make sure you aren’t just sending your precious tree to an early grave. As a general rule, deciduous plants survive transplanting better than evergreens, shallow rooted trees better than deep rooted ones, and younger trees better than older ones. Regardless, you will also want the tree to be in full health if it is any chance of surviving the move.

Preparing in Advance

If you know that you are going to want to transplant a tree this time next year, you will be helping its chances of success by doing some early preparation work. Dig a trench around the tree, about half the distance from the tree as the crown of the tree is from the ground, cutting through the roots of the tree as you go. Ensure that you cut the roots with a purpose made industry handsaw. It’s paramount that roots are not shattered or torn in the transplanting process. Cutting the roots will mean that the tree will consolidate its root system closer to the tree, making it easier for it to be transplanted this time next year.

Defining Your Root Ball

Digging out the tree for transplanting can be quite a process, as you want to make sure that you get a good size root ball if the transplant is going to work. You will also need to factor in the species (evergreen, deciduous, palm) and any site restrictions in play. Make sure to keep as much soil as possible on the root ball when you are removing it, as this will help the tree deal with the transplanting process. Cut the main root ball free from any extending root arms, and wrap the entire ball in burlap sack, tying it with twine or string. If the tree you are transplanting has low branches, tie them up to avoid them being damaged during the move. It is also a good idea to somehow mark the tree so that when you plant it you can ensure it has the same directional orientation.


The last part of preparing your tree to be transplanted is moving it to its new location, which can be quite a mission depending on the size of the tree. If it is only a small tree, you will most likely be able to move it using a wheelbarrow or a dolly, though for larger trees you should get help from your local arborists or tree care professionals.

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