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Transplanting Trees 101: When Is the Best Time to Transplant Trees?



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Whether you've recently been dreaming of altering the aesthetics of your yard or have some construction changes in the pipeline, there comes a time when our beloved trees and shrubs need a new home. As your go-to provider of landscaping services in the GTA, our experts at Absolute Home Services understand the delicate nuances of tree transplantation. Whether for aesthetic reasons, home expansion projects, creating a spring garden, or simply assessing the tree's health, there are many reasons why you might need to relocate a tree or shrub. Dive in as we unearth the best seasons, considerations, and methods for successful tree transplantation.

Why Fall and Early Spring Is the Best Time to Transplant Trees

When Is the Best Time to Transplant Trees?

Fall and early spring transitional seasons are opportune moments to plant trees. The dormant season presents mild temperatures and ensures the trees aren't stressed from summer's scorching heat or winter's chilling frost. Plus, dormant trees during these times make the transplantation process less traumatic. Roots have ample time to establish before the next growth spurt. Summer's intense heat can stress and dehydrate the transplanted trees, while winter's freezing conditions can hinder root growth.

Things to Consider Before Transplanting Trees

Although it may seem simple, transplanting a tree isn't a simple "lift and shift" task. It's a procedure that requires thought and preparation. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Evaluating Soil: Ascertain the new location's soil quality. Check drainage, pH levels, and nutrient content to ensure it matches the tree's needs.
  • Pest Examination: Examine the intended spot for pests or diseases that might negatively impact your tree.
  • Sunlight Assessment: Determine your tree's sunlight preferences; some trees might need full sun, while others flourish in partial shade.
  • Water Source: Confirm the availability and proximity of a water source. Your tree will need regular hydration, especially just after moving.
  • Space: Make sure there's enough space for the tree to grow without obstruction. Factor in the tree trunk diameter and its future growth.
  • Nearby Plants: Check if there are other plants nearby that might compete for resources or negatively affect your tree.
  • Weather Forecast: It's best to transplant when there aren't immediate extreme weather conditions such as a storm or heatwave.

How to Uproot a Tree

How to Uproot a Tree

Transplanting a tree starts with careful uprooting to cause minimal damage and stress. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to approach this crucial step:

#1. Gear Up

Before diving into the uprooting process, having the right tools is pivotal. Find a pair of sturdy gloves to protect your hands from scrapes and potential blisters. A robust shovel can help you dig without causing undue stress on your back and pruning shears will be instrumental in trimming damaged roots. Additionally, having burlap on hand will be essential to wrap the root ball; this helps preserve moisture and protect the roots during transportation.

#2. Prepare the Tree

Like any significant change, preparation is key. Start by watering the tree thoroughly a few days in advance. Sufficient moisture eases the soil and ensures the roots stay hydrated during extraction, reducing transplant shock.

#3. Dig a Wide Berth

When uprooting, try to disturb the root system as little as possible. Start by digging a broad circle around the tree, ensuring you go deep enough to cover most of its root system. Remember, the wider and deeper you dig, the less risk of damaging those pivotal roots that nourish the tree.

#4. Gentle Pruning

Once you've extracted the tree, take a close look at its roots. Any damaged or overly long roots can be detrimental to the tree's future growth. Use your pruning shears to trim these carefully and ensure an easier clean cut that promotes easier tree removal and healthier growth once replanted.

#5. Preserve the Root Ball

Once uprooted, the tree will be more vulnerable. Use a burlap wrap to protect the root ball to retain vital moisture and shield the roots from damage during transportation. Keep the roots moist and undisturbed as possible.

How to Plant a Tree in a New Location

How to Plant a Tree in a New Location

Once uprooted, the next step is to make sure the tree has a nurturing environment in its new home. Follow the below steps for a seamless transition:

#1. Prepare a New Hole

The new location should have a hole that’s about twice the width of the tree’s root ball and of equal depth. This spaciousness provides the roots enough room to spread and grow without being restricted. Proper hole preparation can significantly reduce transplant shock and promote a faster transition in the new spot.

#2. Enrich the Soil

Quality soil is the foundation of a thriving tree. Mix the excavated soil with compost or organic matter which is enriched with vital nutrients. This fortified mixture gives the tree a nutrient-rich environment, promoting healthier growth and reducing the time it takes for the tree to adjust to its new surroundings.

#3. Settle the Tree In

Position the tree in the prepared hole, ensuring it stands upright and straight. This will dictate its future growth direction. Start by filling the hole halfway, then water it slightly to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Once this is done, continue to fill in the hole with soil, ensuring it's firmly packed around the root ball.

#4. Water & Mulch

After planting, you'll need to water the tree immediately, ensuring the roots have enough hydration. Follow up by adding a layer of mulch around the tree's base. Mulch serves multiple purposes: it helps retain soil moisture, regulates soil temperature, and prevents weed growth that might compete with the tree for nutrients.

#5. Protect Your Tree

After transplanting, your tree will be vulnerable as it adjusts to its new environment. Just like a patient recovering from surgery, it needs some protective measures to keep it healthy during this critical period.

  • Staking: Especially for larger trees or those planted in wind-prone areas, staking can offer much-needed support. However, be careful not to tie the tree too tightly. Use wide straps or cloth to secure the tree to stakes. It should be able to move slightly in the wind, which actually encourages a stronger trunk.
  • Guard Against Pests: Newly transplanted deciduous trees can be an attractive feast for pests. To prevent this, consider using tree guards at the base. These act as a barrier against rodents and other critters that might chew on the tender bark. Moreover, monitor the tree for signs of insect infestations and take immediate action if you notice any.
  • Shield from Sunscald: In colder climates, the winter sun can heat up the tree's bark during the day, while the cold night temperatures can freeze it, causing it to crack. Wrapping the trunk with a commercial tree wrap or plastic tree guards in late fall and removing it in spring can prevent sunscald.
  • Avoid Over-Fertilizing: While you might be tempted to give your tree a nutrient boost post-transplant, hold off on heavy fertilization for the first year. Instead, make sure the tree is watered appropriately and let it settle in without the additional stress of processing excess nutrients.


Things to Consider Before Transplanting Trees

Tree transplantation is an art, an amalgamation of science, precision, and care. It's about understanding the intricate bond a tree has with its environment and ensuring that when relocated, it continues to flourish.

At Absolute Home Services, the premier Greater Toronto Area landscaping company, our goal is to provide the well-being of every tree we handle. We're committed to excellence and we have a passion for nature's giants. Rest assured that our team is ready to guide your trees through every stage of their journey, ensuring they stand tall and proud in their new homes. Ready to reshape your landscape? Contact us today and let's dive in with us to co-create spaces of green wonder. Let's nurture nature, together!

Ready To Start Your Project?

Absolute Home Services is here to help! Whether you're in need of expert landscaping, handyman services, deck and fence work, or painting, our team has the skills and experience to get the job done right. Don't wait any longer to start creating the home you've always wanted.


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