Have you ever stared at one of your trees and thought, “This would look so much better over there!”?
Whether it’s because it’s outgrown its home or would just look better in a different one, sometimes we have to move our trees.
This was the case for Davey blog reader Dan from Michigan. He asked, “We would like to move a tree about 50 feet on our property. Not sure if moving in early November is still a good time to do so this fall? We would appreciate a professional opinion.”
To answer Dan’s question—it depends! While there’s a general time to uproot during the year, the best time is determined by your tree species.
Just like pruning, the best time of year to transplant a tree is when it’s dormant in spring or fall. In fall, transplant before the first frost. In spring, plan to relocate before the tree starts sprouting.
All year, trees depend on their roots to funnel water through their branches to feed their canopy. If you were to dig up your tree and transplant it when it’s full of leaves and fruit, you’d cut off its steady flow of water. Then, the tree would suffer from transplant shock and struggle to establish in its new home.
On the flip side, dormant trees aren’t nearly as affected by transplanting. Because they’ve already lost their leaves and fruit, the tree doesn’t rely on its water source as much. Plus, moving the plant when it’s dormant will give it time to establish roots and build up nutrients before the start of the next growing season.
While you want your tree to be dormant, you don't want to transplant trees during winter. You risk root damage when there's frost in the soil. Plus, the ground is often frozen, making the whole process much more difficult!
All trees should be moved during that spring or fall time frame, but finding just the right window depends on the tree type. Here’s the breakdown: