You may find that you need to remove a large, mature tree to prevent damage to a driveway or to accommodate a construction project. It is possible to save the tree and replant it elsewhere in your garden with a little knowledge and the assistance of a good tree service company. Here's how.
Pruning the tree roots
You may be able to handle small trees yourself, but anything sizeable will need to be moved using a hydraulic tree spade, and for this you will need to use a tree removal service company.
Before you can move the tree, you will need to prune the roots. This task should be carried out in the autumn or early winter, before any buds or new growth appears. The tree can then be transplanted in the spring.
- The day before pruning, water the area around the roots thoroughly. This will make the ground soft enough to dig easily, will prevent stress to the tree, and will help the soil adhere to the roots so that they don't dry out.
- Tie up the tree's lower branches so that they are not in your way.
- Measure the tree trunk and allow approximately 20cm of root ball diameter for each centimetre of tree trunk diameter. Mark out the area to be pruned using a spade.
- Cut a trench using a flat spade facing away from the tree, working right around the whole diameter. Any large roots should be cut through using sharp loppers.
- Dig down about half a metre so that you catch as many lateral roots as possible, but don't dig underneath the tree. Return any subsoil and topsoil to the trench when you've finished pruning the roots.
- Untie the branches and water the tree thoroughly.
Moving the tree
- The day before you plan to move the tree, dig the new hole at least two to three times the width of the root ball, but no deeper.
- Moisten the soil in the hole before you plant the tree to reduce the risk of root shock and dehydration.
- Tie the lower branches up out of the way so that they don't get damaged in transit.
- Carefully remove all the topsoil from the area over the roots near the trunk and mark out the area to be dug as before, but allow an extra 10cm diameter to accommodate any new thread roots that have grown. Dig with a flat spade, angled away from the tree, and work gradually deeper, shaping the root ball as you go.
- When you have dug down deep enough to include all the roots, dig underneath the root ball.
- Place a sheet of tarpaulin or burlap in the hole, and tilt the root ball over onto it as you work. Cut through any remaining roots; roll the ball onto the tarp for wrapping and moving.
- Place the tree into its new hole, and fill it up with subsoil and then topsoil. Tamp down the soil as you go to make sure that the tree is secure. Water the root ball area thoroughly every day for the next few months while the tree settles into its new home.
You can move mature trees safely by following the guidelines given above. If you have large trees to move, have a chat with your local tree service firm for more advice.