Timming On Digging & replanting Inground Tree

paully22January 20, 2008

Hi Fig friends,

A friend wanted to get rid of his inground fig tree, about 3" wide trunk & I am welcome to have it. My friend can't remember the variety, all he knows is that its dark colour.The help I need is pertaining to the timming I should dig this tree out & how far should I root prune this tree. By timming I mean when it is breaking dormancy or when it is still dormant. I would probably plant it in ground. Thanks.


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Best would have been to root prune last fall to force fine rootage near the trunk, which would facilitate quick establishment in spring. Lift & replant before bud movement in spring, taking as much of the roots as you think you can handle. It's ok to bare-root or partially bare-root to reduce weight as long as you keep the roots from dessication until you plant the tree (garbage bag or wrap in plastic pallet wrap or similar). Do not reduce the canopy and do not amend the soil in the planting hole. Guy wires/ropes on the tree (cushioned or some protection for the bark, please) to prevent swaying & movement of the root mass will markedly hasten establishment, but do not allow the wires to cut into the cambium.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 4:17PM
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I have to say "WOW" -- thats excellent advise. Many, many thanks. I would go this week to checkout the plant. It would be a shame to know a healthy fig plant thrown out to make room for more grass land.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 11:24PM
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You should plan to do this as soon as the soil warms up and you are not expecting any more hard freezes. The tree will establish new roots even before it breaks dormancy if the ground is warm enough. The more of a head start you give it, the better.

The root ball you take should be at least 24" in diameter. If you can get 30-36" it would be even better. Dig a trench along one side of the tree about 24" from the trunk and about 12" deep. You will be able to see how deep the roots of the tree are. If you are putting the tree back in the ground, prep the hole you are going to put it into before you dig out the tree. Dig it about 25% larger than the hole you are taking the tree out of and about as deep as the roots are now. As Al said, don't amend the soil.

My method for removing the tree (bare-rooted) was to complete the trench around the tree.

Then using a tined instrument start pulling the soil away from the roots into the trench. Work on one side at a time. If you have someone to help you remove the soil from the trenches, it would be helpful. If not, stop periodically to remove it neatly (you will need some of this again). As you finish removing the soil on one side, cover the roots with some of the soil and moisten slightly. Then proceed to other sides the same way. Most of the roots will be in the top 12 inches of soil, however there will be a few that have grown down. You can cut these roots.

Before you put the tree in it's new home, trim the tips of the roots and remove any roots damaged during the bare-rooting process. Put the tree in its new home, and cover the roots with some of the soil. Stick a bamboo tree stake into the soil close to the trunk. Work the stake outward from the trunk to pull the roots straight and to work the soil in. Do this all the way around the tree, add more soil, and repeat. Stake the tree as Al suggested and water the tree in.

Tools you should have with you when you remove the tree:
Spade Shovel: I found this worked great for digging the trench around the tree
Round Tip Shovel: for removing soil from the trenches as you bare root
Garden Fork: for loosening soil around the roots (optional but handy)
Handheld Garden Cultivator: for removing soil from the roots
Pruning Shears: for cutting small roots
Bypass Loppers: for cutting thicker roots (some may be 1.5" thick and roots from neighboring trees even thicker)
Water: if possible, from a hose. otherwise, in a bucket. to keep the roots and soil moist while bare-rooting
Water: for you
Helper: I didn't have one, but it would have made the process much easier.

Another thing to note... It took me longer to do this than I expected. I probably could have removed this tree in a day, however I wasn't going to have time to finish all that I wanted to do and get it potted that day. So I left the tree about 80% removed and saving the rest for the next day. If you have to leave the tree before it is completely removed, cover the exposed roots with damp soil.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Hi James,

Appreciate the detailed info including the picture illustrating what your experiences were. This is a great help minus the helper on-site in my preparations. Would definitely get my 21 yr old mancho wanna-be to help. Apart from fishing he thinks I am possessed by figs.

Gracias -- Paul

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:12AM
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hi.. my brother was paid to remove a fig tree and i found the cut up tree in his truck. the only thing left is the huge root and the dirt that he says has the seeds in it. i was so sad when i saw all the branches cut and am going to strip and make walking sticks. i would love to know if it is even possible to replant and how many years would it produce if i could. im so sad this tree was to be put in garbage. thanks for any info..

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:17PM
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The key is if the roots and wood are dried up or not. If they are dried up, most likely they are no good. Otherwise, the root system can be replanted. It is possible to grow a new tree from it. Also, branches (cut to ~10") can be put in containers with some growing mix to root. There are volumes of information on rooting cuttings within the walls of these forums.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 2:40AM
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