Transplanting Magnolia tree

mintjulep49March 11, 2012

I have a smallish Magnolia tree that I need to move. We moved into our house almost a year ago, and in the front yard, the previous owners had planted a burning bush and a magnolia tree together. The burning bush is close to choking out the tree completely, and as there's not a lot of room for the magnolia to grow (even if the bush were gone), I need to move it.

I've read a little about transplanting, and I know it's going to be iffy already, but it's coming out either way.

The tree stands about 8 feet tall and the trunk is 5-6 diameters.

I'll take any and all suggestions on the best way to move it.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

cut both to the ground.. and apply 100% round up to the stumps ...

and go spend $30 bucks on a new small magnolia at the bigboxstore ...

i have 30 years experience at doing such .. and frankly ... would not mess with an 8 foot anything ... we are talking a 3 foot ball of soil.. that could weigh upwards of 200+ pounds.. lifting it out of a hole.. dragging it across the yard.. dropping it in a hole .. etc ...

all to save 30 bucks.. where does that cost benefit ratio work out???

otherwise.. i used to do such in early april in livonia ... go for it .. it will be good exercise.. if you dont blow a disc out in your back ... [and i still do such in april in adrian mi]

its not worth it ..


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 2:37PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

A magnolia with a trunk diameter of 5"-6" would need a rootball MUCH, MUCH, MUCH larger than 3'. I think Ken's right about the rest of the stuff (unless, maybe, you have a backhoe handy).

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 7:58PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Moving a magnolia of this size is a daunting task and may well fail because magnolias have a brittle root system with a limited number of feeder roots. The advice in the two responses above is worth considering, but if you're really determined to try:

Prepare the new planting site first. Magnolias need a highly organic soil that drains well but holds moisture. Digging a hole and planting into unamended native soil may work for some tree species, but this magnolia is going to need all the help it can get so prepare a large - 6' or more diameter site.

Magnolias do have relatively shallow root systems, so start by cutting about a foot outside the brance spread with a square spade. Gradually undercut and pry up as you work around the tree. Don't even attempt to lift the rootball. Instead, try to slide it onto a heavy duty tarp and drag it to its new site. Wide planks can be helpful in easing it out of the hole. Sometimes it possible to slice under the very center of a rootball by using a sawing action with a metal cable after you've done all you can with a spade.

Keep well watered and your fingers crossed. It's a great deal of work, but I do understand the impulse to save a sizeable tree if at all possible.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 5:49AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

A couple weeks ago I moved a magnolia with a trunk of about 3" and about 8' to 9' tall. Pulled with a truck wrapped trunk with a rag yet the trunk got damaged anyway and the skin or bark was removed from that area of trunk where it was pulled. Wrapped it with a rag for now. A lot of roots remain in the ground and the root ball was about 1.5' to 2' only. A bunch of branches were broken. Added mulch. Watering every 2 days or so. So far it is doing fine. Wonder if they take time to die or is this a sign that it will survive.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:53AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Neon, a tree of that size takes awhile to die.

Mint, I also suggest that you simply cut the tree down. I'd not use RoundUp on the trunk. The chemical, once taken into the vascular system, can affect the other plant (burning bush) by entering the rhizosphere.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:39AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

Rhizo, thanks. By the way, regarding using RoundUp: I would not use anything made by MONSANTO.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:54PM
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