The Q&A Archives: uprooting and replanting a Maple tree

Question: I have a 3 year old maple that is doing well, but I want to transplant it into a corner of the yard where I built a retaining wall - can you tell me when and how to best do this? I live in dry Colorado.

Answer: Both spring and fall are good times to move landscape trees and shrubs. The cooler the weather, the better. Soak the soil well the night before the move. Damp soil is easier to dig than dry soil. Expect the roots to be in the top 18 inches of soil and extending out past the longest branches. I dig a trench all around the tree about halfway between the dripline and the trunk. Then dig down and towards the trunk all the way around the trench, digging deeper each time I go around the tree. You should be able to locate the main root mass. Try to dig under it without severing any of the larger roots. You may need to pry it out (I use crow bars or 2 x4's for leverage. It's usually a two-man job. Once the tree is out, replant in its new home as soon as possible and water it well to help settle the soil. Be sure to water deeply once each week to help the roots re-establish. Good luck with the move.

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