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Moving Southern Magnolia

Posted by CalumetGardener 5/6 (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 5, 13 at 16:07

I have two good sized (13 ft tall, 3 inch diameter trunk at base) southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora "Braken's Brown Beauty"). These are located in NW Indiana, just outside of Chicago. I planted these, one in 2004 and one later. The house where they are planted is being foreclosed on. I would like to move them if possible, I think I would need to lift them onto a tarp and lift the tarp into a pickup truck. I have ever moved a southern magnolia or a tree of this size. I would like any advice from anyone who has dug up a tree of this size, particularly a southern magnolia.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

I have dug southern magnolia with no problems but it was April. Moving a broad-leaved evergreen this time of the year can be risky. Even when properly dug (see link) the roots in the rootball may not be able to replenish the moisture lost through the leaves and they will dessicate.
I'm in zone 7 and November planting of this magnolia whether B&B or container is risky for us.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to hand dig a root ball


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

i would think you will need at a min.. a 4 foot wide by at least 2 to 3 feet deep ball of soil and roots ...

and i simply ask: how ill you lift the 200 to 500 pounds of soil in a tarp up into a truck ???

a 3 inch diameter tree.. needs a tree spade ....

IMHO ... this is not a homeowner project ...

i know its hard to leave them behind ... and am sorry about it.. for you ..

ken


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

Moving a Magnolia grandiflora this time of year is not something I'd do. Unlike a lot of other trees, this one has rope-like, fleshy roots that don't grow much during the colder, winter months. This can result in significant rot and root-loss, when these trees are moved this time of year.

I agree with Ken that a southern magnolia that size would need a rootball of at least 4' in diameter. Depending on your soil type, I think you could get by with less depth. With typical soil for my area, I'd probably go for a ball of about 18" deep. Ken lives in sand world, so his depth estimate may be better for his area. Not everything that can be done, should be done. As Ken always tells people, go out and buy you a small tree (at the right time), and leave this one where it is.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

See, my neighbor and I once moved this six foot tall white ash. It was growing near the driveway. We did a unique combination of using the hose to bare root it and digging up a root ball. Took all day for a tree I could have bought for a couple twenties.

Fast forward a couple years and I moved this Crepe myrtle once, five foot tall. This misadventure eventually involved my neighbor's pick up and dragging straps under it to see what the heck was holding it in place.

Total waste of an afternoon and one of my back's nine lives. I got it from a box store originally and saw new ones there for $18 I tell ya.

Make ya a deal. You remind me to just go buy a new one next time and I will remind you.

Sucks though. I get the same sentimental attachment.

If you just MUST do it and do not have heavy equipment I think you will find the rootball too heavy to move. To get around this I would make a bloody mess of the yard and use the hose to wash away the soil to near bare root status.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

I think dealing with an ash or a crApe myrtle is a very different thing than dealing with a southern magnolia, though.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

Brandon, I am in no way disputing that. Are Southern magnolias a difficult transplant or broadleaved evergreens in general. Crapes seem like an easy transplant to me. Ash, I dunno. I have not planted one since learning about EAB.

Really I think w/o equipment this is too big of a project. Almost as bad as pulling a motor w/o a cherry picker.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

No, many broadleaved evergreens would do just fine transplanted now. Southern magnolias are just one of the exceptions, IMO.

I just realized that I don't have anything in the planting guide (linked below) about these exceptions. Magnolias, pawpaws, and a few other plants fall into this fleshy-rooted tree category.

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting a Tree or Shrub


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

The ground is black dirt with a fair amount of sand in it. This is near Lake Michigan so there is a lot of sand. I may not try to move it if I can't get a big tree spade to do it.

I also have a paperbark maple with a similar diameter trunk. I might need a spade for it too.

I wanted to grab the more valuable ones that aren't as easy and cheap to replace.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

I've no familiarity with southern magnolias. But I have moved a few things people though I couldn't.

For digging out, if you can't get to the bottom of the rootball, I've dug a deep trench around the roots, packed a sturdy chain into the bottom of the trench, then hooked both ends of the chain to the tow ball of a 4x4, and pulled the chain under the rootball, severing the bottom roots.

To get the tree into the truck bed, I'd use a ramp and see if it's possible to roll or drag it up the ramp with help on the rootball. I'd wrap the rootball with a tarp and tie it on so it doesn't slip off. I'd also wrap the branches as much as possible to keep them together and avoid more damage. Having a few muscular friends to help isn't a bad idea.

If it's a just a bit too heavy, try finding a way to brace a 2x4 in the front of the bed, then using a come-along tied around the rootball to drag it into the bed, or even onto a trailer.. Or try pulling from one of the bed tie-down points....

I don't know what a tree spade costs...but I'd think the transport costs might be more expensive than the spade. Maybe worth checking on if the new location is close by....

Keep us posted!

vince


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

Vince, I move a lot of trees up a ramp and into my truck. Even though it's an old beater, I removed the tailgate as soon as I bought it. It will bend as soon as any significant weight is put on it. Bend it enough, and it won't latch anymore.
I've ruined a few tailgates over the years wheeling rocks, plants, and topsoil in a wheelbarrow up a ramp leaning on the tailgate.
Mike


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

"I have two ...southern magnolias. ... The house where they are planted is being foreclosed on."

Let me offer another angle on this, you shouldn't remove appliances or other fixtures from houses in foreclosure, and you shouldn't remove trees either. This is probably not a popular opinion, but it's the truth.


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

I agree, whether you planted them there or not.
I have bought plants from moving sales , even garage sales, even though the owners hadn't thought of selling them.

Mike


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RE: Moving Southern Magnolia

Yes, I missed that part of the original post. Legally (and ethically?) I'd say the trees now belong to the bank. When selling a home, you can get in trouble for digging up plants after the deal is made.


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