Moving Mature Trees

Posted on: 22 December 2014


The problem with trees is they take a long time to grow. So if you're currently designing a restaurant or a backyard oasis where you want fully grown trees to shade your guests, it's going to take planning and a lot more effort than simply planting a few saplings. Large, mature trees require big equipment like a crane, as well as manpower. They can also be quite pricey. But mature trees bring with them a beauty and majesty that young trees just can't pull off. 

Why Mature Trees

When reality television show star Lisa Vanderpump decided she wanted to open a second restaurant in West Hollywood to complement her already popular Sur location, she chose to go with a Mediterranean theme. But Vanderpump didn't want just her food to reflect this sun-kissed area; she also wanted to have a courtyard filled with charming 100-year-old gnarled olive trees. She knew that saplings would not have the same panache, and she certainly didn't have 100 years to wait for them to grow into the beautiful specimens she currently has gracing the courtyard of her restaurant Pump. So that is why she chose to purchase fully mature trees blessed with the character and stately beauty only time can bestow on a tree. 

Finding Your Specimens

If you are fortunate, you might be able to convince a farmer or a homeowner who no longer wants an old tree to give it to you. While you will still have to pay for a crane and possibly a truck to move your tree, it would be much cheaper than purchasing one from a specialty nursery. According to the Sioux City Journal, the price of a mature olive tree, for example, could be around $20,000. When searching for a tree or trees, be aware that some do better than others during transplanting. For example:

  • Mature olive trees are popular for transplanting because they are very tolerant to being moved.
  • Pecans and walnut trees have a long vertical tap root, and these types of trees don't tend to do well when transplanted.
  • Healthy trees, not surprisingly, do much better than ones that are diseased.

You should also make sure that the area to which you will be transplanting a tree is suitable for that species. For example, in the wild, dogwood trees like to live in the shadow of other trees. It doesn't tolerate being by itself in full sun. Unfortunately, people tend to plant this tree by itself when they place it in a garden and then are surprised when it dies.

Moving Mature Trees

Once you decide to move a mature tree, you will need to:

  • Read more and hire a moving crane and transportation.
  • Dig the hole where your tree will be transplanted. Make sure the hole is at least two to three times the width of your tree's root ball. 
  • Saturate the soil around the tree. This will not only make it easier for you to dig your tree out, but will also help loosen the root system. 
  • Map out the root system and then dig as much of them out as possible. 
  • Lift the tree and root ball carefully out of the hole with a crane and either move the tree to its new location -- if it is on the same or adjacent property -- or onto a moving truck. 
  • Use the crane to position your tree in its new hole. 
  • Do not fertilize the newly moved tree for at least one year after transplanting as this will stimulate unwanted new growth. 
  • Possibly stake the plant for stability.

While it may be much easier to purchase a few small saplings for your yard or business, only mature trees can give you the grace and beauty that you may be looking for in your landscaping.