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Tree - Transplanting

The best time to move most trees and large shrubs is fall and winter – during the main dormant season in other words. In general tree balls should 9-10” in diameter for every inch of trunk caliper measured about 12" off the ground. If the plant is multi-trunked, use all the diameter of the largest trunk and half of all the others.


Howard demonstrating the tree planting technique of bare rooting at Prairie Fest in Fort Worth


The depth of the ball is not crucial but is usually about half as deep as the ball is wide. The depth of the hole is important. It should be just less than the depth of the ball so that the ball when set is slightly higher than ground grade. This allows for settling and makes sure the ball isn’t too deep in the ground. As with new trees, excess soil should be removed to expose the root flare and true top of the ball before establishing these dimensions. For the full discussion of tree planting, see the topic How To Plant Trees Properly.


Burlapping the root ball prior to moving is not essential but helps to hold the soil together. It should always be removed at least from the top of the ball before backfilling with the native soil dug from the hole. Soak the backfill with water from a slow running garden hose and add an ounce of Garrett Juice per cubic foot of backfill. Do not thin out the top, stake the tree or wrap the trunk. A better and actually easier method of moving a tree for transplant is to bare-root it. This can be done with trees dug up for transplant or trees coming out of nursery pots. The hole is very shallow when planting bare root trees.


Mulching a Newly Planted Tree

Apply no more than two inches of mulch around newly planted or transplanted trees and shrubs and keep the mulch a few inches away from plant crowns. Do not pile mulch up in deep cone-shaped mounds around tree trunks.  This looks bad, holds moisture against trunks and potentially leads to crown and stem rots.  Extend mulch out one to two feet beyond the planting hole to allow for the season’s root growth for trees.


Painting tree trunks.

Painting or spraying the trunks of young fruit trees with white latex paint in the late fall may reduce chance for freeze injury (southwest trunk damage). Paint from the ground up to just past the junction of the lower scaffold limbs.


Painting tree trunks with a bright white latex pain to reflect the winter sun and minimize temperature fluctuations at the bark surface should be done sometime after harvest.  Any inexpensive white latex paint will do.






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