Transplanting this tree - how realistic?

johniferousAugust 23, 2014

I think this is a Norway Spruce, but if you think it's something else let me know and I'll post a pic of the foliage up close.

So the previous owner planted it in 2007 as a small tree. It's now about 9 feet to the tip of this years candle. It's beautiful...and planted directly under a 20 foot high power line.

I refuse to top it and make it look like crap. So I'm either enjoying it for a few years then killing it, or.....transplanting it to a different spot on my property next month.

How realistic is the idea of doing this? It has to be done by hand with a few friends - a truck or baco cannot get to this area of my property.

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Here is the foliage in case I am wrong about it being a Norway Spruce....

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:39PM
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It can be done and is worth a try for a tree like that, but it will be a lot of work. Do it in the spring before the buds break. Tie up the lower branches so you can see the trunk. Draw a circle about 24" diameter around the trunk. A machine dug ball would be bigger but that is enough to handle with a hand dug ball. Better to be a little small than to have it crumble apart. Dig the ball with a VERY sharp shovel (grind and file it) so that you can slice through the roots without breaking the ball. You may have to saw the largest ones. Round out the ball so that it is attached to the ground by about a 10" pad on the bottom of the hole(the smaller the pad the better without tipping over the tree). Now burlap and rope it. Use lots of nails to pull the burlap tight - twist the nails in so they don't pop out. Wrap the rope tight around the trunk and ball. The only part of the ball that will be without burlap and rope is the pad connecting it to the ground. Now slice it loose. Then tip the whole tree to one side and fill some dirt in the other side of the whole. Repeat tipping/filling until the ball is at ground level. Carefully roll to new location. Carefully slide it into it's new hole. After back-filling, don't forget to cut the rope off around the trunk and cut off any burlap that is above ground level.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 7:50PM
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I moved a Norway some years back,,,i have to say, I got lucky,,,it lived
one thing different from nurseryman's instruction,,I dug with shovel perpendicular to rootball,,saving any long roots,,folded back against ball.
well,there was a lot different,,,but that's not the point

WOW my 1st link !

Here is a link that might be useful: moving 16 ft norway

This post was edited by on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 21:33

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:24PM
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Wow, thank you for the detailed help. You said 24" diameter around the trunk - that's only a foot on each side of the trunk. Did you mean 24" from the trunk, or true diameter?

Either way, that root ball is going to be big and I'd better not attempt this by myself. Do you think I can pull it off with one other person or will I need two more? Me and my friends are somewhere between wimp and professional landscaper.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Jarpe(z4-z5 Finland)

If one has time, there is exellent trick that will double your chances. That is to make cuttings with shovel forehand, months before moving the plant. Then plant gets time to recover from trauma caused By roots being cut. Some extra watering can be needed at this point.
Good idea would be cutting roots in spring before growth and moving in beginning of August. Moving next spring maby even better, but then i would recomment shading during end of the winter.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 5:49AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

man i must be getting old.. or lazy ...

do you do Christmas .... ???

it would make a nice ... real... home grown... tree for the house ...

and for 10 bucks you can buy a 2 footer and plant it elsewhere.. .. like in a 5 acre park ... lol ....

presuming your ID is correct.. do you fully conceptualize this things potential??? ... see link

there are a lot of P.a. named cultivars... that have a dwarf growth rate.. and could fit nicely into suburbia ... this logging tree is not really one of them ....

congrats on seeing the power line issue ... while you can still do something about it.. prior to blaming the power co .... or having to whip out some serious money ...

and congrats on the issue of topping ...

you are coming along well.. on your learning curve ...


ps: all this said.. if you still have friends who work like dogs ... and you have the time, etc ... give it a try.. worse that can happen.. is it dies ... though we dont know how often the friends will keep coming back ... lol ...

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 8:04AM
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Ok then, 3 questions:

1. You say to do it in early spring....Why not an early fall/September transplant? It will have more time to settle before it's spring growth spurt. I did two 9 foot white pines last fall and they survived the harsh winter just fine.

2. With regard to cutting it and leaving it for a few months before transplanting - wouldn't I be shocking it twice then? Isn't it better to just do it all in one day and let it start growing new roots in its new home asap?

3. How much shade can these take? It's in partial sun now, the new spot is a little more shade.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:11AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in my MI ... i do it either fall or spring... and i prefer fall.. on the exact logic you note.. two cool.. root growing seasons.. before the next summer ... it has been suggested.. that this is very unique for my area ... even by peeps in otehr versions of z5 ... since its so diverse ...

i also have said.. dont double up your stressors ... if you want to root prune in advance.. it should be YEARS in advance.. not 25 minutes... in other words.. most peeps miss that window by years ...

shade will NOT kill a plant.. annual growth can be reduced.. and they will tend to be more open .. not as thick ... and take longer to re-establish ... but they wont die for shade alone ....

dont like the harvest idea.. eh???

sharpen your shovel before you start digging.. and have the new hole roughly dig first ...


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Jarpe(z4-z5 Finland)

`` 2. With regard to cutting it and leaving it for a few months before transplanting - wouldn't I be shocking it twice then? Isn't it better to just do it all in one day and let it start growing new roots in its new home asap? ôô

Well, after pruning, roots inside tended rootball area recover and strenghten during following growing season, without growing season in between it really doesnôt help at all as Ken said. Transplanting is stress aswell so there is now one stressful thing at the time for plant and not two at the same day. This is normal protocoll here in nuseries that raise 2-3 meter trees for urban landscaping.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 11:23AM
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I've moved a few smaller trees, mostly 6-7ft tall Picea glauca and Picea pungens spruces, by myself and I can tell you that it was a LOT of work. Lots of digging, lots of root cutting, lots of sweating, etc. and a very sore back afterwards.

Personally I would want some help with a job like this. A 9ft tree of any kind is going to be a very difficult job for one person. You need a good sized rootball, which will be very heavy. If the soil was soft and loose, and if the roots were fairly compact, and if you have lots of time, and the weather is cool, and you are in really good physical shape, then maybe you could do it by yourself. I would still want some help if it was me.

As noted by others, just make sure to have your target planting hole dug out and ready to go before starting to dig out this tree.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:21PM
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I meant a 24" diameter circle at the surface, or 12" radius from the trunk. Since you will be carving a globe shape, the maximum diameter will be a little larger at the "equator."

I would do it early next spring before it gets any bigger. If you want to do it this fall, do it now so it has a chance to root in a bit before the ground freezes.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 8:25PM
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