If you look at the “about” section of the Designer Trees website, you will discover that Tony got his start in the tree business by rescuing Dracaena Draco trees that were about to be cut down or destroyed. Tony is fully licensed for tree rescue, sustainable harvest of rare trees, and generally maintaining and tending all sorts of trees. Moving a mature tree is a process best done over several months, but if a tree is in immediate danger, that might not be an option.
The best time to move most trees is during late fall or late winter/early spring, especially deciduous trees. These are times when the tree would be the least active with growing, and will be the most likely to adapt readily when the season moves back into growth time.
How to Move a Mature Tree
The ideal way to move a mature tree begins with a root trim and might involve large digging machinery.
To do a root trim, about six months before the projected move, dig a trench around the tree leaving plenty of room for the main root ball.
- First tie up the lower limbs to protect them.
- Use a sharp shovel to cut the roots and the recommended distance from the tree. (This will vary by tree type and size.)
- Loosely backfill the trench.
- Wait six months. (This is the part that you might not be able to observe. If the tree you are transplanting must be removed before a certain date, that six months might be a luxury you will not have.)
- At the end of the waiting time, dig a new trench a little farther out from the original.
- Undercut the root ball at a 45-degree angle all around it.
- Work a canvas under the root ball and gently wrap it up for travel.
- Depending upon the size of the tree, you might need a crane or a hoist to lift it out of its original hole.
- Meanwhile, a new place needs to be prepared for the tree. However, if it needs to travel for some distance, it can be placed carefully in a temporary location where it can be kept watered until planting is possible.
- Once the tree is planted, it will require aftercare. This might include trimming any branches that were damaged during the move.
Spectacular Tree Moving
Perhaps one of the most spectacular tree journeys was moving the Gija Jumulu Boab. This gigantic bottle tree (not related to the Queensland Bottle Tree) was in the way of some important highway development. In 2008, the tree was moved more than 3000 kilometers to its new home in King’s Park. It was a joint effort between several agencies and is reported to be doing well. It is now one of the main attractions at the park.
The Other End of Transplanting a Mature Tree
In a famous children’s book, a man expresses his affection for his wife by planting “monkey trees” for her. The trees in question were gnarled and twisted, with knotholes that looked like winking eyes. It would not have been remotely possible to grow a tree of this nature, so transplanting a mature tree was the only option.
Transplanting a mature tree can be a challenge, but it can also be the instant fix for placing a mature tree in your yard or garden area without having to wait twenty years or more for it to reach a respectable size.
Re-homing a mature tree can be a satisfactory solution for everyone. The builders or developers are not faced with the indignation of people who would be unhappy if special mature trees were cut down, and the people at the other end of the move are the happy recipients of a beautiful tree without the usual long wait for a tree to grow. A truly win-win situation with no downsides if the move is well-managed.
Planting Young Trees
Moving a mature tree is not the only way to gain a beautiful tree. There is a certain satisfaction to planting young trees and watching them grow. You can also enjoy shopping for your special tree, wandering down the row after row of young glauca grass trees or bottle trees available at Designer Trees. Nor is there any downside at all to visiting the grove of glauca grass trees on the Designer Trees property. (Be sure to ask permission and follow all approved procedures.) Visiting a grass tree forest is like stepping back in time to when “trees” were all monocots.