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transplanting dawn redwood

Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 6, 11 at 8:43

A friend is having a 14' dawn redwood planted this weekend (northeast PA). I read that they need any 2 of: full sun, wet soil, low pH. All I know is that he's planting it as the only tree in a wide-open yard (the one that was there came down in a recent storm). I've never added soil amendments for my transplants, but never looked into one of these before, especially if he wants to bring the pH down. Any suggestions?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

a tree is a tree.. even if it is a conifer ....

i dont like the size ... transplants of said size.. can have a lot of trouble growing the roots requisite to get ESTABLISHED.. but whatever pleases them.. is fine with me ...

mine are in pure mineral sand.. high drainage... full blistering sun .... no water after establishment.. which for my 3 footers.. was after the second year ...

no soil amendments.. no fertilizer ... unless a soil test indicates something is grossly lacking from the soil..

is this potted.. BBurlap.. or tree spade ...

if heavy clay soil is an issue.. advise ...

the only issue.. and i will yell:

IS PROPER DEEP THROUGH WATERING THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE ROOT ZONE.. WITH NEAR DRYING IN BETWEEN .... its of no use to spray it down.. or keep the first inch wet.. when the roots are a foot or two down ... insert finger.. or dig small holes.. until you/they.. understand how to maintain moisture [as compared to water] at depth ... to learn how frequently deep water must be applied ...

even with my high drainage sand.. once wetted to depth.. that might mean additional water every 2nd or 3rd week ... keeping track in july/august ...

a good thick blanket of mulch at least 1.5 times the width of the tree is requisite ..

building a moat ... about 1.5 time the width of the rootball ... will allow puddling of water.. to allow time for it to soak into the soil ... you can not achieve deep watering.. if the water is running away from the plant..

the mulch should be kept 3 to 6 inches from the trunk and bark ....

BTW.. you make it sound like he is replacing with the same tree that was lost... if that one was thriving.. then why would any soil amendment.. like pH .. be needed now???? ..

dont overthink this tree.. treat it like any other tree ... PLANT it PROPERLY.. and WATER IT PROPERLY.. and you should be all set ...

it is not that rare a tree ... i also thought they were when i started in conifers ... but came to find otherwise ... i tried to find a US range map.. but had no luck this morning ....

good luck


RE: transplanting dawn redwood

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 6, 11 at 9:44


This friend called me out of the blue to see if I would help him plant it after he already ordered it so he could save on the extra charges. Ended up paying $500 for it.

I gave the nursery a ring and they said it would be about a 3' root ball.

He lives in another city, so I wasn't sure where to send him to get a soil test, but I will take some back with me to where I take it.

Not sure about clay content, but would you recommend mixing in anything if it's high and going a little extra wide on the hole?

For watering, I've never transplanted anything this big. Would a gator bag be suffice for the first year with some additonal watering around the perimeter? Extremely wet fall so far in our half of the state, so aside from soaking it at planting, I'm guessing it should be good until next spring?

I follow that same mulching technique to a tee but maybe will give it a little extra diameter this time.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

I gave the nursery a ring and they said it would be about a 3' root ball.

THE ONE TIME I WENT THIS BIG ON A ROOT BALL .. I BORROWED THE BALL CART FROM THE SELLER.. TO MOVE THAT THING AROUND ... and one other time.. i insisted on delivery to the hole ...

drainage is prime with all conifers and trees ... there is no drainage in a heavy clay soil ... one would only plant half the ball in the soil.. and then add a berm of good draining soil ... the tree will eventually work its way into the clay .. all we try to do.. is allow drainage until the tree can take care of biz. ...

try calling your county extension office.. or soil conservation office.. and ask .. generally ... if there are any well known soil issues in your county.. in regard to this tree .. USUALLY .. they know off hand.. if you can actually talk to the tree guy ... the few times i did this.. they happened to mention that there were hundreds of the plant all over the county.. that i didnt even know about .... as i said.. i bet its not as rare as you think.. its just another tree ... though a deciduous conifer ...

i have no faith in gator bags .... because peeps think they can simply walk away .. and never worry ... if you use one.. go out once a week for the first year.. and insert finger .... then you will be in charge .. not the tree gator marketing man ... i have seen more dead trees with gators around them.. than you would think ... and it isnt the gators fault ... its a tool.. that is easily misused ...

i would measure twice.. dig hole ... i dont use this wider is better logic ... i would just go a foot or 18 inches wider..

planting DEPTH is the most important thing ... and once that ball falls in the hole.. i doubt you will be dragging it out to readjust depth ... measure.. and measure.. and measure.. because you have only one shot .... err towards an inch too high .. rather than too low ...

for $500.. bucks ... i would have insisted on delivery ... and if they cant do it.. cancel the order .. and order a tree half the size for $100 bucks .... save yourself the back surgery ...

and if they cant deliver it this weekend.. then next is fine.. or the one after .. etc .. any time in october should be OK ...

predig dig the hole to about 80% .. no reason you should have to be doing that on delivery day ... fill it with water.. and find out how water drains form the hole ....

once in the hole.. i would backfill about halfway .. jump in the hole .. tamp it down with my boot ... and fill the entire hole with water .. two or three times.. letting it all drain away.. and hopefully saturating the entire rootball .. then i would refill 75%.. and fill again.. and then to about 95% and fill with water again ... do you see how i am insuring the entire root mass is damp ....

then i would shape the moat.. water again.. and then mulch.. and then i would come back in about a month.. in insert my finger ...

and then worry all winter long .... lol ...

then i would presume spring thaw and rains.. will keep it moist thru june.. but inserting finger once a month ...

but i would be on my hands and knees come the heat of july/august.. inserting finger.. and hand troweling little holes.. to find out how the soil is drying at this time of year ... one deep watering around 8/1 ... will probably be the make it/break it time ...

the fog is probably gone.. so i am going to go play with my trees.. good luck

i dont have time to reread this.. good luck with interpretations.. lol

BTW..i said this was my way .. that doesnt mean its the right way.. lol ...


RE: transplanting dawn redwood

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 6, 11 at 10:48

I'm speechless, Ken. This is awesome. Thanks for the help!

Delivery right up to the hole was included in the price, and there will be 3 of us there to put it in and position it after that.

Last fall I got slammed on here (deservedly so) for putting a 3.5 cal tree too close to my garage. Come to think of it, it was probably a similar root ball. I sucked it up a few days later and between me, a friend, and a spud bar, I was able to move it out another 2' after 1.5 hrs of backbreaking labor. Ironically, out of 5 transplants last fall, that one seemed completely unaffected by this past season's drought followed by record rain.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood


well i wouldnt do it for just anyone .. whoever you are.. lol

you are welcome ...

remember.. err towards planting high.. do NOT telephone pole it ... and in fact.. dig around the trunk a bit.. to find the root flare ... sometimes you have to dig down a bit .... do this before its in the hole... to insure proper planting depth ....

also ... remove as much burlap as you can.. once its in the hole... use a razor blade.. and i would not care about the little immediately below the monster ball ...

and remove a wire cage if you can.. at least remove all of the top ... you will need some hardcore wire cutters ....


RE: transplanting dawn redwood

I want to see pictures!

Smaller if definately my style. Less work lol.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

LOW PH is not absolutely necessary with this tree. It is pretty adaptable. Ken, it is critically endangered in the wild - there are less than 5,000 trees left in the wild and probably 6 times as many in cultivation.

You don't need to go to excess trouble to plant this tree high, either. It grows in flood plains and is adaptable to having it's trunk buried in silt, like it's relative the coast redwood. I would definitely say that full sun and water are important, though. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO OVER-WATER THIS TREE. Once again, they grow in flood plains in China - they love water and will thrive with it.

I have a question though - why is your friend planting such a large tree? It will take much longer to get established then a smaller one, and this tree grows so fast that one could plant a five gallon tree and it would be at 14 feet in two years. A tree I planted for a friend in Chicago put on 6 feet this year.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

Big tree = instant impact.

Sometimes I can even see bigger as being safer from kids and yard equipment/weeds.

If I was guessing I would say compacted soil is their weakness. I killed one in a pot a few years back before I knew about pots. Also have seen a couple small transplants have a tough go of things in new subdivision yards. The type of places with compacted soil and no remaining top soil.

Besides that, i have a couple in a BUCKET of fluffy gardening mix. I'll dump out the standing water when I think about it. Kinda an experiment lol.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

I've seen a large well established dawn redwood in clay soil on a floodplain just a few feet from a stream in OH, so I'd agree with shastensis on it not minding wet soil.

Research says that it doesn't help trees to add amendments to the hole or dig it especially large. Rather, if you need to add amendments, do it on the surface the width of the tree canopy or wider. Research I've read also says that smaller trees catch up to larger ones within a few years due to less transplant shock. That has been my experience as well.

I have found that fall is a better time for transplanting as the warm soil encourages root growth while the cooler air temperatures and lack of leaves for deciduous trees like the dawn redwood creates less water stress. It will still need regular attention to water next year and maybe the year after.

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 8, 11 at 13:32

Tree arrived this morning and the guy couldn't believe we didn't have a machine ready. I've transplanted 3.5" cal trees before but this thing was massive.

Soil was nice and black. Didn't hit clay until the very bottom of the hole. The guy from the nursery called it "farm soil". Anyway, took 4 of us to roll it off the truck and into the hole. Luckily I was dead on with the depth. 4 hrs later and viola! Top's a little crooked from being tied down to the truck, but the base of the trunk is nice and plum.

42" wide root ball. Don't think I'll mess around with anything this size again, but now I think he got a good deal by getting a full-size looking tree for $500. Plenty of room, sunlight, and I took some soil to test this week.

The happy homeowner and his new tree:

RE: transplanting dawn redwood

  • Posted by j0nd03 7 west/central AR (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 8, 11 at 14:02

Nicely done. I hope my large projects have similar results this fall.


RE: transplanting dawn redwood

Wow. Impressive but of muscle work. Thank goodness you god that hole right!

Mine here was a one foot arbor day or eight year ago i think it was.

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