The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Saplings

Question: We recently purchased a home. In the garden area are two maple (we think) saplings which the previous owners were going to transplant in the yard. We were advised not to transplant them until fall since our summers here are quite hot. Is this good advice? Does it make a difference WHEN we transplant them? Also, they are about 5 ft. tall, what is the simplest way to dig them up as to assure that we get all of the roots?

Answer: We always recommend transplanting trees and shrubs during the spring or fall months when the temperatures are cooler and there's some natural rainfall to help in the transition. If you transplant during the summer months the trees will have to deal with the stress of being moved plus the stress of hot weather. Wait until temperatures mellow a bit, then dig the trees and transplant. Your saplings probably only have minimal root systems, penetrating about a foot deep and about as far out at the tips of the branches. It's always better to dig a generous hole than to start too close to the trunk and accidentally sever some roots! Water your trees well after planting and be sure to supply one-inch of water per week until seasonal rains take over the chore.

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