Transplanting Sequoia Redwoods

gorickJune 27, 2006

I have five 20 feet tall redwoods that I would like to transplant. They have a diameter of approximately 6 inches. Looking for suggestions on digging them up and transferring them (keeping root base intact, likeliness of survival, etc.)

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Wow, are you ever ambitious! Well, the best time of year to do it would be late winter/early spring, and now would be a bad time. The thing is, I don't think it's a job for e.g. you and a friend one wknd or anything - the rootballs are going to be huge by now, certainly atrociously heavy, and just having pre-dug holes ready for them elsewhere is a job in itself. You need pros with trucks and digging and lifting equipment, a 'good shovel' certainly won't do much now. They should survive if it's done right, but I wouldn't go with the lowest bidder either. They'll need tons of water for quite a while afterward (months) and you might even want to consider the possibility of getting new, smaller (they grow quite quickly) trees for the new location rather than moving the existing ones.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 4:55AM
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Agree with the above - this is going to be a job for a professional team with a tree spade and two-tonne (or more) rootballs.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:49PM
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I'm in San Francisco and I have a small 1 year old redwood that I want to tranplant into a larger pot. When is the best time of year to do this? Also, and general transplanting advice would be great. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 1:24PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Colin - if it's already in a pot, then anytime will do. Pick a pot at least 2 in. wider in diameter than the pot it is in, and a couple of inches deeper. You can also go with a bigger pot than that, just be sure that whatever pot you shift it into, it won't stay too soggy - wet roots will rot and kill it off as fast as anything else. If you want to plant it into the ground - while it will live and grow in a pot, it will do a LOT better in the ground - as long as you are prepared and willing to water it at least an inch of water per week, maybe more, depending on how it looks and how hot it gets - then any time will do for a potted plant. If you have really hot summers, you might do better keeping it in a pot, in a slightly shady spot, over the summer, and plant it in the ground as the weather cools off in the fall.

Gorick, I would agree with the two posters above - moving any tree that large is a job for professionals with heavy equipment, never mind moving 5. You might well be better to start over again with smaller trees, rather than stress these, and your budget, trying to move them. If nothing else, they will take a LOT of watering over the summer for them to settle in and to survive. I'm not saying it can't be done, but this time of the year is a bit late, and it WILL cost.

You might call around and get estimates from a couple of tree services. Try to get those who are certified - their will be more reliable. And, of course, check on references, insurance, that they OWN the equipment, not rent it, so there is a likelihood that they have done a number of BIG jobs, etc., etc. You know all the questions, I am sure, it's all the usual part of doing business.

The other thing to think about is whether there would be access to the site the trees are on for the necessary equipment - there would have to be a big tree spade machine, a crane to lift the trees (also large), a large flatbed truck or two, and a Bobcat or dozer to fill in the holes, plus its transport, at a bare minimum. You would also need access to the site where you want to plant the trees for most of the equipment.

People have been moving large trees for hundreds of years - I have seen photos from the late 1800s of men with shovels and several 4-horse teams of horses, moving an oak tree that dwarfed them, in the middle of the winter. I am sure it cost big bucks then, too, but it IS doable.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 2:57PM
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If sequoias are like most conifers, they should still be movable at this size. But as everyone has mentioned, this is a big job. If you're willing to hire someone with a tree spade, and if the trees are to be moved to a different part of the same yard, the job can be done with just the tree spade.

The spade would begin by digging a hole where the first tree is to go. The soil held in the spade would be placed near where the last tree to be moved is standing. Next the first tree to be moved would be dug and carried ( by the spade ) to be placed into the first dug hole. Now it would dig the next hole and bring that cone of soil to be placed in the hole where the first tree was. This process would continue so that in the end, all you have to do is shovel the one pile of soil into the whole where the last tree came out. Not too much work.

An excellent technique to aid in the survival of large tree spade-moved trees is to rototill or otherwise dig up, a strip of soil all around the perimeter outside of where the root ball/cone was set in the ground. This gives the roots a 'breakout zone' of loosened earth to start growing into immediately. Water and mulch would be your friends in this venture, also. Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 7:47PM
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Thanks for the response. I want to keep it in a pot. Should I break up the roots at all or just plop it in a larger pot with good drainage? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:12PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Colin, if the roots are just there at the sides, and not growing 'round and 'round, then plop it in. If they are going round the outside strongly, then rough them up a bit. Next time, if the latter is the case, don't let the tree get quite so root-bound - pot it on sooner.

Gorick, what did you decide? I hope all the negativity (so to speak) didn't put you off altogether. In all the rush to give advice, I, for one, didn't stop to ask where you wanted to move the trees from nor where they were to be moved to. Sorry about not finding out more of what is, before saying what should be.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:38PM
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