I have a very nice mature weeping cherry about 6 years old. I would like to move it. Can I “bare root” the tree and move it that way? If so, how does one bare root a weeping cherry tree?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Michelle: Transplanting an established tree can be tricky and trying to bare root your tree in order to move can be even trickier. This is not a practice usually recommended for homeowners. Historically this was the only method used to harvest and sell fruit trees but as the industry grew, growers realized they could grow containerized plants as well as balled in burlap (B&B). Bare root planting is usually reserved for smaller trees. It takes special equipment and a lot of experience to make sure you do not damage the roots in the process. Air spades are the newest piece of equipment used by many arborists to unearth the root system of larger trees. The roots are then sometimes dipped into a nontoxic hydrogel solution to ensure they do not dry out during the moving process. For your situation the roots should be immediately put back into the soil so the dipping may not be necessary. The benefit to harvesting bare root trees is that they are much lighter to move than if the soil ball were intact. If this all seems overwhelming you might consider contacting a local certified arborist to see if they offer this service. Otherwise you can transplant your cherry by hand digging up as much of the root system as possible and getting it back into the ground as soon as possible. It is always a good idea to have your new hole predug and water accessible to reduce the stress of transplanting. Now is a fine time to move your tree. You will want to start digging a few feet out from the drip line and work your way in to make sure you are not removing any roots in the process. Treat it like any other new planting and avoid fertilizing at least until the spring.