Japanese Maple transplanting

Discussion in 'Maples' started by davemaple, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. davemaple

    davemaple New Member

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    Location:
    vancouver, bc, canada
    I have inherited two 60 year old japanese maple trees from my grandfather.
    They have been well taken care ofand I want to relocate them from North Vancouver to Abbotsford. I have made a few phonecalls to tree movers and heard different ideas about how to dig them and move them and the costs of moving them range from $500 to over $1000.
    I wanted to post here to find out the best method to tackle this
    I will post a photo of the trees. They are side by side and approx 6' tall by 8' wide
    The trunk is at least 6" at the base of each
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you are going to dig these this season you need to do it right away, once they start to bud out you will be interfering with the new spring flush. In fact, it is probably too late to avoid that as you will be cutting the roots right before the top activates even if you get on it immediately. If you can put it off until right after fall leaf drop that might be better.

    If you are not familiar with moving specimens of this size it would be well worth while to pay such fees to have it handled by somebody else - as long as they know what they are doing. Old purple weeping laceleaf maples recovered from old properites down here tend to retail for thousands of dollars each.
     
  3. davemaple

    davemaple New Member

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    Location:
    vancouver, bc, canada
    I will be moving them next week, I have no choice as the house is being demolished soon
    I am just concerned about the process and want to make sure we do everything to make sure they don't die in the end after the investment I make
    Is it better to hand dig or is a machine ok?
    Should I prune the top before (to make it easier) or after I move them?
    Is the wind from driving on a highway going to kill the trees? I've read that I should wrap them in plastic airtight
    What is the best mix of soil?
    What should I put in the soil in the way of fertilizer?
    Will they be ok beside a fence?
    How much of the root system can I trim off during the digging?
    I have lots of questions, but want to have all my bases covered.
     
  4. jacquot

    jacquot Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
    Larchmont Z7, NY, USA
    I have to ask: do you know that the new owners will cut the trees? This is a very difficult and risky process on your schedule. You should count on losing, or at least potentially severely damaging the trees. If you do move them, find the best outfit possible, take their advice and pay whatever it takes. This is not about money, $1,000 or more to move a tree like one of those is nothing. This should be a 2 year process to better assure success. Do you have an appropriate and permanent place for them yourself? 60 years is not terrifically old. This can be an issue, and with some specimen trees myself is something I think about.
     
  5. davemaple

    davemaple New Member

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    Location:
    vancouver, bc, canada
    After some thought I have decided to wait until the fall to move them.
    I do own a home with a yard and have a permanant spot for them.
    Is it safe to assume that in the fall when the leaves fall off, I can move them?
    Should I prune them in the meantime?
    What is the ideal spot for them? partial sun? full sun?
     
  6. AlainK

    AlainK Generous Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Hello,

    I don't have any experience with such big trees, but I've removed smaller ones in two steps:

    - first, "circle" them: that is, dig a trench around the tree, cut the roots, and refill the trench with sans mixed to the soil. add potash too (I usually do it in autumn but I think late winter-early spring is OK)
    - then, after the leaves have fallen (several months later), new roots have formed and you can remove the tree with new feeder roots.

    If you trim them at the same time, there will be less sap flowing out if you cut some of the roots too, and if you do trim them, I suggest you spray the trees with copper sulphate (bouillie bordelaise, Bordeaux mix) to prevent diseases entering through the cuts.
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    The size of the trees in the photo are deceiving.
    A six foot by eight foot tree can be done by yourself
    as long as you take some preliminary steps to
    ensure a smooth transition to the new site. There
    are some members of this forum, near or in your
    area that have shown ability to move such a tree
    for you.

    Is it better to hand dig or is a machine ok?

    Hand dig as suggested by Alain. A hand dig
    can be done all at once or in stages as Millet
    wisely suggested in a Citrus thread for an old
    tree. I'd try not to have a tree mover (tree spade)
    move this tree if at all possible unless the roots
    have been freed by hand. Then a tree spade
    would work but with sensitive roots I do not
    like mechanical cutting of those roots at all.

    Should I prune the top before (to make it easier)
    or after I move them?


    No, prune the top later if need be and only if you
    see signs of the top growth starting to die out. In
    my area we may have to prune back the top if we
    felt we did not get enough or adequate root system
    from our initial root cut. We are much warmer here
    and warm longer in the growing season than you are.
    Thus, the more root system we do not damage or
    tear into from the cutting to lift the tree, the better
    and easier the transition is to transplant a tree of
    this size.

    Is the wind from driving on a highway going to kill
    the trees? I've read that I should wrap them in plastic
    airtight.


    Without any leaves on the tree there is not too much
    to worry about. With leaves on the tree, then a tarp
    cover would be better than a clear plastic in warm sun
    as then sunlight entering through the plastic can cause
    some heat burn in very long trips. Ideally you want to
    cover as many of the leaves and the roots as possible
    to lesson wind desiccation.

    What is the best mix of soil?

    Unless there is a specific need to give this tree soil
    other than native soil, then the soil at the new location
    is the preferred soil medium for the transplanting.


    What should I put in the soil in the way of fertilizer?

    A good rule to follow for Maples is that we do not add
    in Nitrogen in, under and around the root zone upon
    transplanting. Some people use potash, I like using
    a liquid Vitamin B1 for around here to cover the roots
    as a ward against fungal activity. Not solely to prevent
    or aid in transplant shock as some people suggest rightly
    for some areas and wrongly for others. Where you are
    there may not be a need at all to add in any additional
    soil amendments at all for this transition.

    Will they be ok beside a fence?

    A photo of the new location would help some but in
    theory at this time planting near a fence should not
    be an issue. Until we know more of course.

    How much of the root system can I trim off during the
    digging?


    If you've never done this before for such large trees,
    then a good rule to follow is try to dig down about
    three feet all around from the trunk. Two feet may
    work but I like cutting the distance to just less than
    half of the overall spread of the tree. In this case
    eight feet wide so, three feet from the base of the
    tree is a good enough distance to suit me. Then
    dig straight down all around to at least a foot in
    depth or foot and a half, no less than a foot
    preferably and no more than two feet down for
    a six foot tall tree and then angle your digging
    toward the base of the tree and lift out of the
    ground.

    Is it safe to assume that in the fall when the leaves
    fall off, I can move them? Should I prune them in
    the meantime? What is the ideal spot for them?
    partial sun? full sun?

    The Fall is a good time to move the tree. For your
    area late Winter/early Spring is acceptable as well.
    Do not move this tree as it is leafing out in the Spring
    as Ron suggested and do not move this tree during
    the warmest time of the year. Otherwise once the
    new site is prepared for the move then you can
    lift this tree out of the ground and move it almost
    any time of the year. It seems these trees are in
    a full sun location now by the photo. A little late
    afternoon shade at the new location may not
    hurt these trees any,

    Do yourself a favor and hire someone in your area
    that has some working experience moving medium
    sized trees or large shrubs. You may want or need
    a landscape specialist or a specialized arborist or
    tree care professional. You have a Ministry of
    Agriculture that may aide you in advising which
    professionals they would contact to help move
    these trees for you.

    Jim
     
  8. EPP1950

    EPP1950 Active Member

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    Location:
    Camas Washington,USA zone 6b
    I asked the same question here when I first joined this site.Here's my thead:
    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=65323
    If your planning on hand digging it, I tried on the second page of the thread to
    discribe the physical process in full detail for another member.
    Its now been two and a half years since I moved it, and it has done wonderfully, not a hint of transplant shock. I still have a soaker hose coiled around it several times, and once the rains have ended I'll continue to water it about once a week this year. Good luck with your move, those are two beautiful trees, and their connection to your grandfather makes them even more valuable.
     
  9. amazingmaples

    amazingmaples Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Following basic standards for digging is always good but sometimes one can not follow them. Since the trees are in a more mild climate it allows a little more flexiblity.
    I have had to rescue several large japanese maple trees and in general they tend to be very hardy even when a minimal rootball can only be taken.
    I have found that once they are transplanted it is important to give a good root stimulant to the tree and keep the tree very most. If for some reason they come out bare root it is best to get them in a soil mix with bark in it. I have found that I get some of my best recovery by keeping the tree in a pot so i can control the moisture.
    As for digging this time of year, lots of my inventory is still being dug up at the nurseries. They tell me that they have a few yeeks left of digging and there is another grower who digs most all year.
    Big key in digging the tree is to start out where you are cutting the least amount of roots and dig in towards the tree Try not to move the tree until vertually all the roots have been cut. It is also important to have a good sharp flat shovel made for digging out trees. Sharp loppers and saws are good.
    I have added a photo of a japanese maple with a 14" caliper truck which is about 100 years old which needed to be moved. The rootbal is about 5' in diameter and 18" deep. The tree was sitting in a wet yard so there were no major tap roots, mostly just soft roots. The tree still weight about 4500 pounds. You can also see a short clip of it being removed from the ground on youtube.
     

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