Answer: To lessen transplant shock, you should move your tree while it is dormant (mid- to late-winter). It won't be easy to move your cherry tree. After 5 years the root system will be quite extensive. The good news is - cherry trees are relatively forgiving if they lose a few roots. I'd dig the new hole first, then excavate around the tree, expecting the roots to be concentrated in the top 12-18" of soil, and out to at least the dripline of the tree. Start digging at the dripline and work your way toward the trunk, trying not to sever too many roots. It will be a job for 2-3 strong gardeners so enlist some help if you can. Make the move as quickly as possible - you don't want to expose the roots to cold, dry air for any longer than necessary. You'll want the tree to be planted at the same soil level as it was before the move. After installing in the new planting hole, backfill with native soil and water well to drive out any air pockets around the roots. Be sure to water deeply once each week to help the roots become established in their new home.
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