There are many reasons why you might wish to move a mature tree or plant. You might want to add more shade to an area or you've recently changed the layout of your backyard and want to move the tree to a different spot. Or maybe the tree is struggling to thrive in its current location. Whatever the reason, there are a few simple things to keep in mind.
If you're going to move a mature tree, your aim is to minimise the shock to the tree, which will help it survive. “The best time to move a mature deciduous tree is in autumn after the leaves have fallen. The soil will also have enough warmth in it from summer to encourage new growth,” Katie explains. Spring is also a good time to move a mature tree before the buds break out on the branches.
It's a good idea to give the longer roots a prune up to six months before you move the tree. Katie says “this will encourage new smaller roots to sprout within the root ball, which will help it settle into its new place.” Dig a trench around the tree at the foliage line and cut off the longer roots with a spade. Then replace the soil in the trench you've dug and water the tree to help it recover from the shock it'll experience.
When you've settled on your new location, dig your hole deep and wide enough for the root ball of the mature tree to sit in. You can also add some organic matter such as compost or a fertiliser into the hole before you place the tree.
With a spade, dig a circle around the old tree to expose the root ball. Lift the spade under the root ball and loosen the soil from the roots. Depending on the size of the tree, you may be able to simply lift the tree right out of the ground with the spade. If not, you can lay the tree down on one side as you loosen the roots from the soil. Try to keep as much of the root ball intact as this'll help you overcome transplant shock.
Position the tree in its new hole, and make sure the tree is facing the way that you want before you re-plant. If the ground is dry, you may also need to give it a healthy dose of water. When the tree is in place, backfill the hole with soil so that the tree trunk is at the same height it was in its original location.
Pat down the soil firmly to get rid of any air bubbles. Then add some manure or compost and water in liberally. You can also add a seaweed solution to give the tree a greater chance to grow healthily. Add mulch around the tree and it will be thriving again in no time.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.