The Q&A Archives: Transplanting a Young Pine Sapling

Question: I have a 10' pine tree I would like to move out of the way of our future house. The soil is fairly sandy, with potato size and larger rocks. I need to know approximately how deep and how wide the root ball generally is.

Answer: Pines generally take well to transplanting, if adequate care is taken to keep them moist and protected from extreme weather during the first year in their new spot. For best results, the soil ball size is determined by allowing 8" of soil diameter for every inch of trunk diameter (for instance, a 3" diameter trunk does best with a 2' soil ball), and make it at least that deep as well. Have your transplant site prepared before you dig the tree. White pine is tolerant of most soil conditions, but the better the soil, the healthier it will be. Never let the soil dry completely during the first year.

At planting time, gently firm the soil around the root ball, and then water heavily. This not only moistens soil, but helps soil settle into better contact with roots. Add and tamp more soil around the tree if watering creates holes in the soil. If the new site is on a windy exposure, a windbreak will help reduce evaporation and transpiration of moisture from the vulnerable transplant.

Water heavily once per week and place a 2" layer of organic mulch (hay, bark mulch, shredded leaves, etc.)to help maintain soil moisture. A paper wrap on the lower 6" of the trunk slows evaporation and protects tender bark from sunscald. Hope this helps - good luck and welcome to your new home!

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