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When is the best time to plant a tree?

When is the best time to plant a tree is one of the questions we hear the most. Of course, 10 years ago, is the most accurate answer! All kidding aside, a tree really can be transplanted anytime of the year, as long as there are enough roots in relation to the size of the tree and the tree is properly cared for, i.e., proper watering. For additional details, see How Much Water Should I Give My Tree question below.

Question: Is spring or fall a better time to plant?

Answer: There is differing literature on this topic, depending on the tree species. Our experience has never shown a difference between spring and fall. Transplanting is stressful to a tree and you can reduce stress by planting when the tree is dormant. However, there are factors that have a far greater influence on how well the tree does.

The top differences are:

1. How big the root ball is in relationship to the size of the tree

2. The care the tree receives after planting

Question: Can I have a tree transplanted in the summer?

Answer: Yes, if you are watering it. Proper watering is of paramount importance in the successfulness of transplanted trees. They especially need that daily drink in hot and windy weather. We highly recommend not leaving for vacation and leaving your newly transplanted tree unattended. It has been our experience that trees can have a greater flush of growth in the spring, having had an opportunity to become better established before winter.

Question: Can you move a tree in the winter?

Answer: Winter can be an excellent time to move a tree. We prefer 1-4 inches of frost, and are usually able to dig through a maximum of 6 inches of frost. The ground is firm enough to drive anywhere. Two inches of snow is perfect, as it holds the frost, even on a sunny day. However, with more than 6 inches of snow, and the truck cannot easily move in the field.

Question: How big of a tree can you transplant?

Answer: A general rule of thumb for transplanting trees is to have 10” of root ball for every inch of trunk caliper. (other factors can influence this, and can be discussed in specifics to your situation.) For our 65” spade, we can move up to a 6” diameter shade or ornamental tree and an 8” evergreen. With the 88” spade, we can move up to an 8.8” diameter shade or ornamental tree and 11” evergreen.


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