It’s just not their area of expertise, and they don’t have the right equipment like tractors and truck-mounted tree spades.
Moving houseplants and small trees to your new home during the early spring, maybe a walk in the park.
On the contrary, relocating a stand of towering maple trees isn’t a feasible DIY project.
Instead, you’ll need to work with one of the following tree specialists –
- Dedicated tree transplanter
- Tree wholesaler or retailer
- Commercial and/or residential landscaper
Now let’s take a look at the ins and outs of having a tree moved.
But first…if you are looking for a moving company in addition to the specialists we mention above, here are some links that might help:
- Hire Professional Movers: Don’t risk injury by moving heavy items yourself. Professional movers know what they’re doing and can save you the chance of hurting yourself and a loved one.
- How much will your move cost?: This cost calculator will provide a free moving quote and calculation of what your move should cost. Just plug in your move dates, the size of your move, where you’re moving to/from, and let the calculator do the rest.
- Consider moving containers: Need a more budget-friendly option? With these companies, you load, and they drive! These are the best moving container companies.
Tree Moving Terms
Rootball – the ball-shaped dirt and root cluster that anchors trees and shrubs to the ground. Tree movers carefully extract and secure root balls before transporting and replanting trees.
Caliper size – the measurement of a tree trunk’s diameter (not circumference) about six inches above the ground
Sapling – a young tree, usually with a trunk diameter of fewer than four inches at chest height
Tree spade – a specialized machine with multiple hydraulic spades to dig underneath and lift a tree and its root ball. Mechanical tree spades can be attached to trucks, tractors, and skid steer loaders like Bobcats.
Root collar – where a tree’s roots and trunk come together
Transplant shock – the stress experienced by a newly transplanted tree as it struggles to get acclimated to its new environment and regenerate its root system, especially its feeder roots
Restrictions When Moving Trees
Before finding a suitable tree mover, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with laws, regulations, and restrictions.
It can be daunting, but there’s a better way – rely on the knowledge, experience, and expertise of a well-established tree mover.
After all, moving trees is their business, so don’t hesitate to use them as a resource.
To get the ball rolling –
- Find a reputable company (ask friends, families, and coworkers for referrals)
- Call and give them the lowdown on your tree transplant project
- Let them provide an estimate and proposal for getting your tree moved successfully
During the vetting process, tree transplanting company representatives should ask lots of questions.
If they don’t, they may be more interested in your money than your tree.
Did You Know?
According to their website, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t generally regulate the long-distance (interstate) transportation of “noncommercial nursery products.” Instead, each state has its own laws and regulations regarding what you can bring in plants, shrubs, and trees from other areas.
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What are the steps to replant a tree?
Moving and replanting large trees is usually best left to professionals.
However, if you’ve got the time, experience, and lots of helpers with shovels, a DIY tree move is doable.
Before hitting the dirt, consider these helpful tips from Southernforests.org and the Texas Forest Service.
1. Choose the right species/variety for your new location – think about things like how tall and wide your tree will grow and whether it’s suited to local climate and soil conditions
2. Dig the right size hole – the new hole should be the same depth as the root ball itself. Replanting a root ball too deep can cause serious problems later on
3. Check drainage – before replanting the root ball, fill the hole with water and make sure it drains completely in less than 24 hours
4. Save your dirt – filling the hole and covering the root ball with dirt and soil from your tree’s original location will help it get acclimated to its new environment
5. Prune your tree only when necessary – better yet, leave branch pruning and root pruning to professionals to avoid injuring or killing your tree
6. Situate the root ball correctly – the top of the root collar should be at or slightly above ground level
7. Remove everything but dirt and roots – you should remove the baling wire, twine, burlap, and plastic bags (both biodegradable and non-biodegradable) before placing and covering the root ball
8. Hold off on the stakes – when planted correctly, you won’t need to stake most trees for additional support
9. Don’t forget the mulch – you can also use pine bark, wood chips, composted leaf litter, and straw (hay), all of which help regulate soil conditions like temperature and water retention. Mulch should be between 2 and 3 inches deep, but make sure to leave an open area around the trunk
10. Water the tree, but don’t overdo it – you need to water newly replanted trees for the first two years. Remember, a few good soakings are better than dozens of light sprinklings
11. Protect your tree – erecting a mesh cage around the tree trunk will prevent deer, cows, and goats from snacking on the bark
12. Don’t fertilize – during the first growing season, it’s wise not to fertilize transplanted trees since nitrogen can damage tender roots and slow growth
What factors affect moving a tree?
Numerous factors determine whether you can relocate your tree and how much the moving process will cost.
When estimating your job, tree movers will consider –
- The size of the tree (height, trunk thickness, canopy width, and approximate weight)
- Age (mature trees are often the most tricky to relocate)
- Accessibility for equipment and crew
- Where you are moving it
- Laws and regulations
- Equipment limitations
- Weather and planting seasons
How much does it cost to uproot and move a tree?
Pricing can be all over the place, but moving a moderate size and easily accessible tree across town can cost as little as $2,000.
On the other hand, relocating a mammoth oak across state lines could cost $15,000 or more.
What was the largest tree ever moved?
According to Guinness World Records, South Korea’s 750-year-old, 2.7 million pound Yong Geri Ginko (ginkgo Biloba) tree was the largest ever transplanted.
The move was so complex that it took nearly four years to complete.
How big are most trees?
“Big trees” are generally those taller than about 40 feet. Just keep in mind that varieties with relatively narrow trunks like pines may be significantly lighter than those of similar height with thicker trunks and denser wood-like oaks.
What is the average cost to move a tree?
Straightforward local and onsite tree moves can cost as little as $2,000, though the price to relocate a single tree can easily surge past $20,000. But remember, these are only averages—plan on getting at least two quotes from experienced companies when contemplating a tree move.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you uproot and move a tree?
You can uproot, move and replant most tree types. However, due to size, age, species, and other restrictions, some will have to stay where they are.
Is it possible to relocate a tree?
Yes, it’s possible, but it’s often best to rely on the experience and expertise of a professional tree mover.
How much does it cost to replant a tree?
Replanting a small or medium-size tree can cost as little as a few thousand dollars, while large ones in relatively inaccessible areas moving far away may cost $20,000 or more.
What type of tree cannot be moved?
Due to age, size, weight, and access issues, you can’t move some trees from one location to another. If you’re not sure if your tree is movable, consult with a certified arborist.
Is it possible to move a tree in a pot?
Small trees in pots and planters are easy to move. After a few years, however, they’ll probably need to be planted in the ground.
When is it necessary to move a tree?
Homeowners tend to move trees when they don’t want to part when relocating to a new home. Others may be in the way on construction sites, and moving them may be necessary to comply with local laws.
When is the best time of year to move trees?
You should transplant established deciduous trees in early spring before new leaves appear or in the late fall after they’ve lost their leaves. Evergreens do best when relocated in the early spring and late summer.
Is it easier to move and transplant new trees or existing trees?
Since they’re already dug up and ready to go, new trees are easier and less expensive to transplant. In addition, when buying new trees larger than saplings, movers may include home delivery and planting if you live locally.
Interesting Tree Facts
- Trees live longer than any other organism on earth
- Most die from stress caused by wind, lightning, drought, disease, and pollution
- Methuselah, a California Bristlecone Pine, is nearly 5,000-years-old
- Olive trees usually live about 500 years
- Spending time around trees may reduce stress
- Colombia, Brazil, and Indonesia have the most native tree species
- Shade trees and shrubs strategically planted around homes and businesses can reduce energy costs by more than 20% in the summer