A. In a few words, take as much of the roots with it when you move it. That is tough to do by hand and rough on the tree regardless. Use a backhoe or, better yet, a hydraulically operated tree spade. There are a couple of arborists in Las Vegas who own tree spades who could do it for you. A tree spade is by far the best way to move a larger tree.
Digging it up and moving it by hand is difficult unless it has been on drip irrigation or prepared for this move one year in advance. A successful transplanting moves as much of the roots as possible to its new location and at the right time of year.
Now, December through February, is the right time of year. Drip irrigation keeps tree roots closer to the trunk. With rainfall, or a landscape irrigated by sprinklers, tree roots spread wherever there is water up to twice the height of the tree.
This means a 10-foot tree might, ideally, spread its roots 20 feet from its trunk. Unfortunately, the most important roots to transplant with the tree are roots growing at the outer half of its root spread. That’s not possible.
Older trees on drip irrigation, or irrigated with a depression around the trunk, have a better chance of survival because more of their roots are close to the trunk. You may not have many options open to you so let’s cover what to do, worst-case scenario.
|Reducing canopy size for transplanting. Taken from LE Cook at http://www.lecooke.com/cms/tree-care/care-of-bareroot/358.html|
First, cut the limbs back so they are three or four feet tall. You must remove at least 1/3 of the tree’s canopy when transplanting. Next, dig a vertical trench around the entire tree deep enough to sever all the roots in the top 18 to 24 inches. This trench should be at least 2 feet from the trunk.
Dig the new hole for the tree. Dig it twice the width of the trenched hole and about 6 inches deeper. Mix compost with soil taken from the new hole. Use this soil mix when replanting the tree. I am not a huge fan of the product but add Super Thrive to the backfill. It’s relatively cheap insurance.
Undercut the trenched tree so it moves freely back and forth. It would be perfect if all the soil attached to the roots was moved with the tree. But most of the soil will fall free from the roots in when it is moved. Not perfect but it’s okay.
Lift the tree from the hole and cut any remaining roots with pruning shears (best) or very sharp shovel. If most of the soil fell from the roots during the transplant, get the tree into its new hole a watered as quickly as possible. Minutes of delay could prove important in the speed of its recovery.
Begin backfilling around the roots with the soil mix you created and water from a hose at the same time. The soil should be a slurry and fill all of voids around the roots. Filling these soil voids is important.
Equally important is to stake this tree so it’s roots are immobilized for one growing season. Construct a basin around the tree at least four inches deep and on top of the new hole. Fill this basin after transplanting three times over a period of 1 to 3 days. A good job results in a transplant planted solidly in the ground.
Water once a week, filling the basin, for the first month. After the first month, water it as you would normally or as needed.