The Q&A Archives: Transplanting

Question: My neighbor has 16 Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees he's going to get rid of. Height: 3 to 6 ft tall. The trees are very close together and some run along a hurricane fence. The trees have had Red Spider Mites.

I would like to transplant them.

Is it worth the work?

Would we damage the root system since they are very close together?

When is the best time of year?

We leave 20 miles away so we would have 1/2 hr travel.

Are they expensive to maintain?

Would I have to spray every year for the mites?

What would I use to control the mites? Is this expensive?

I would appreciate your step by step instruction's on doing this IF you think it is worth the trouble.

Thank you very much

Mark Tylkowski
Grand Island NE

Answer: I hate to be discouraging but I think you would not be happy with the results if you try this and lose most of the trees, with the remainder being somewhat deformed. As a rule of thumb, for evergreen trees over about 4 feet tall you probably need a tree spade to dig up a large enough rootball to sustain the tree. Given the proximity to the fence this is probably not practical, and hand digging will also be impeded. Even if you do manage to dig them with sufficient roots intact and somehow lift them into a truck for transport (you need to protect the roots from drying out in transit and you must use a closed truck to prevent wind damage and drying the needles as well as the root balls), next pre-digging the planting holes will be a huge job as well -- you need to replant immediately. You would also have to be able to water them at planting and then as needed for the first few years while they re-establish, and provide a wind break the first few winters. Spider mites will have weakened the trees and thus will reduce their chances of re-establishing. Spider mites can be difficult to control unless treated early, and any damaged bare patches reaching into older wood will not regrow. If they have developed bare spots at the base or sides from the insects or from being crowded, they may remain deformed since these trees do not grow from old wood. To be honest I think you would be happier starting with good quality newly purchased trees, even if you have to start with tiny ones and wait for them to grow. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging. You might also want to consult with your local county extension or possibly a professionally trained and certified arborist for an on-site opinion. If you are going to do this, the time would be either now or in early spring before they start to grow for the season.

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