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Moving an Established Japanese Maple

Aiken, SC(Zone 8a)

Curious... My sister is moving a Small Lace Leaf Japanese Maple. It was planted over 14 years ago by my mother (sister inherited the house). The tree is only 4 feet tall. I know this is a bad time of year to transplant anything. Especially in the 90+ degree weather in SC. But she is having a pool installed.

Do you think this tree has a chance to survive? My mother loved this tree. I'll take any advise to pass along to help this tree

Thank You!

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

It would be best to wait until fall but if it has to be moved then I would make sure it was in a semi shady spot even if it is only temporary with water close at hand. JMs are pretty tough.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

I do think the tree has a good chance to survive and I think there are a number of things your sister can do to help it along the way. The tree might not have it's best summer ever but with some TLC I don't see any reason why it wouldn't survive.

One thing I've heard of people doing when transplanting trees is to go out and dig a trench around the circumfrence of the tree a few weeks before actually transplanting the tree. Of course, doing this will cut some of the roots while leaving others undisturbed. Someone with more horticultural experience than I have can explain the science of this better than I can, but my understanding is that doing this gives the tree a chance to start creating new feeder roots which helps aid in recovering from the sudden transplant shock that frequently comes with moving an established tree.

I agree with hcmdole too - a shady spot with sufficient water will go a long way to helping the tree recover from its move.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Is it in the sun now? I've moved several trees without a problem. The roots will be deeper than you think and you will have to cut the main roots to take the tree up but don't be worried about that. I have planted containerized trees in the summer which means less stress but still stress and they've done fine. Just be sure to replant the tree at the same ground level it was before. Burying it too deep can kill it.

Aiken, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanky ou all so much for the advice/tips. I am hoping she will let me transplant this tree for her. I'd rather do the work myself and have it survive. Thank goodness I inherited my mother's green thumb.

This tree has always been in full sun with late afternoon shade. I believe she intends on replanting it in full sun. I wished she would let me take it home. I have a bloodgood at my front door.

Dee

Aiken, SC(Zone 8a)

Brother in law hacked up the feeder roots with an ax to get the tree out. Shhhh.. I'm not suppose to know. He didn't want to wait for me to dig the tree up corretly. So he started hacking up the root system yesterday and just tansplanted it to the new loation.

Still think it has a chance?

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

I would think that as long as he got up a good portion of the root ball and they replanted it correctly that it will survive if it receives some TLC this summer.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Well it's in nature's hands now. Sure wish brother hadn't gotten happy with the ax. It will probably be OK.

Milford, DE

my vote is it is a goner.

Wrong time to do it. If you need to dig and transplant you have to do it after the growth hardens off and then place it in deep shade for at least 2 weeks with a lot of moisture. Even then it is a crap shoot.

Dave

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

i am hoping for the best although the axe was not the brightest idea - once out did he at least make a clean cut or did he just plant it? if not i would have him checking out nurseries for a replacement for that move - good luck.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I moved one from my old house in summer six years ago in the middle of June. I used burlap to hold the root ball in place (although it was kind of loose). I did not dig a hole and placed the JM in a small courtyard between the garage and front porch with the burlap in place. I kept it watered and the plant rooted easily. Now it is really to big to move after this much time. It is over 7 feet tall and at least that much in width.

Here it is this year:

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

Volunteering to move a 14 year old tree , even one that isn't huge on top is like volunteering for a painful single blind worthless medical experiment .. Dave is correct it may or may not make it and if you do it your self it likely won't. What you read that the root system of JMs are shallow is not the case with an older tree. there is allot going on underground that will make your task very difficult and likely damage the tree fatally .. Those tap roots that Jms supposedly don't have are there just large deep roots maybe not scientifically called explicitly tap roots but LARGE ROOTS . You would likely have better luck hiring a bucket truck to dig an adequate hole in the yard to be moved to and then dig it out and plant it in the dug hole same size hole without removing any dirt ... going cheap on this is a big mistake one BIG heart attack prone, back dislocation mistake... that likely will add up to a dead tree anyway. Just because one person has success (by luck , or it may have been a different age tree or a wimpy root system different soil etc) does NOT mean anyone else will. That's how BS gets started on the web . One persons experience is not everyone else. If you wnat to volunteer thats very admirable!!! But I would suggest volunteering for your local bread line or homeless shelter. David(san)

This message was edited May 29, 2011 8:15 AM

Russell, KY(Zone 6b)

I had to move one in the heat of summer one time and I rigged a shade cloth to block the sun until it became established.
A few temporary fence posts and some burlap cloth was all it took.

Aiken, SC(Zone 8a)

Update... Bro in law planted it in full sun next to a picture window. Planted it just as he pulled it in the new location... Oh and he prunned the lower limbs

I doubt this tree will make it. Neither has a green thumb or a clue how to garden or take care of plants/trees.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

So sorry about your tree!

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

"Those who try to go cheap doing something they know nothing about are doomed to failure" Davidsan 2011

... buying to small of trees or off ebay under the guise " I don't care about a larger tree i like to watch it grow ( with my microscope ;>000 ) buying trash at end of season at lowes under the guise of "saving a tree'" ... looking for the cheapest price not the best tree .. I always tell folks save your $$ and buy a larger nicer tree .. not everyone has $$ but everyone can save $$ .we..are a penny pinching society ... and in our economy it makes sense ... but a tree can last for many years Some women whine and nix there husbands and boy friends from buying a $70 tree that can last for decades whike they spend that much every six weeks at the "beauty salon" getting there hair done... and some men spend it on electronic junk but nix their wifes purchase of a tree that will likley last much longer ... its enough to drive one nuts.. Davidsan

Aiken, SC(Zone 8a)

My Mom's tree is already Dead..

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

not surprised - hack job - sorry - get the bil to buy a new one.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

sorry about the tree. It's always hard to lose one.

Dahlonega, GA

Davidsan , I agree with your point of Not buying a nice tree , but spending the bucks on beauty shops. Unfortunately , I got stuck with a step daughter in law like that .Collage grad and no sense at all of priorities , like making house payments before designer shoes , purses , cell phones for the 7&10 year olds, jeans that cost 70 dollars and boots like the other girls have for the 10 year old . She thinks it will make the girl more attractive with her peers , but you just can't fix ugly .
On another note , my weeping ,20 year maple started losing some of it's leaves this last summer as if it had been burned. Some of the branches died . Any Ideas anyone ?I know it wasn't water starved .

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

So sorry about that. /Are there black patches on the limbs that died?
I just lost a new Beni Otaki. :( It was a good size one too. I'll keep an eye on it and replace it in the spring if I need to. It came in great condition so I can't blame the shipper.

Dahlonega, GA

Doss , I've left Georgia , and the tree for the winter , so can't look for black spots but will get back with you in April about it . Seems it was so sudden, I don't have a clue at this time .This is before and don't have pictures loaded from camera for ' after'

Thumbnail by digger9083
Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

It was one of the hottest worst summers in the last 100 years ... your tree may be fine next spring ... could be many factors not necessarily fatal ones .. My guess many folks lost trees last summer or will from the stress this spring especially if this winter is bad which so far hasn't but we are not into the "real" winter months yet ... any tree severely effected last summer and still alive might not make it or have significant die back ... It has nothing to do with tree or even water ( although in many places that is a contributing factor .. we had 1.5" in three months ) It was just plain TOO HOT!!! I had to install a drip irrigation system and overhead sprinklers in the 6 greenhouses just to keep them alive and still had little damage but no losses nothing that next spring will be visible. With some Jms they will loose a branch or two for no reason look all around the tree for bark split not as common in south but does occur ... look carefully at trunk ... that would be one answer but a long shot down there but you did have some very cold spring temps with warm before and after. That's a breading ground for bark split. With bark split some branches die and some don't ascetically those that gain nutrients from the split areas while others get theirs from mthe non damaged areas usually if not severe just a natural pruning .. if the bark split is not all around the trunk your tree will likely heal if it is too big your tree will linger for a year or so then die. As i said not likely down their but common up here .. Some U of I folks came and have studied bark split and say a very small damaged trunk when very young that heals unnoticeable weakens the bark and causes the bark split good theory no proof but possible .it may happen at any time but generally the first year or two after planting one reson I think in this case along shot ... but bark split is one of the most common reason for JM death in north.. Davidsan

This message was edited Nov 20, 2011 3:57 PM

Dahlonega, GA

Looked for that but maybe not close enough . I have several native dogwoods that have split and have watched them for several years and hope they heal over . The bark seems to be loose under the split . I have several J M 's in buckets to replace this one if it doesn't make it , but will never see them mature because of my age .Now I can't wait for spring . The J M kept leaves on several of the branch tips and know there will be some selective pruning in April.

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

If you are in your 50's or above NEVER buy twigs as you said you will likely never see them mature even for younger folks that old sick line ( "I like to see them grow )ADD "with a microscope" which is code word for "CHEAP" ... anyone can save $$ ( except those without jobs or are on fixed income) . Best to save and wait and buy something you can enjoy from the get go ... you can then actually see them grow also REALLY ( duh!!) and be honest about it to boot... Of all the ebay trees I bought only one or two survived and they are still small .This advise is more for those in Northern where they grow like snails but for those in more Jm friendlyn areas also.. having to wait two or three years to really have a plant from a twig is a bit "pound wise and penny foolish baring the above exceptions where savings is not possible. I mlike to enjoy my Jms from the get go and have learned my lesson the nhard way through death of trees or not even knowing they are there for 4-5 years. Davidsan

Dahlonega, GA

Very true !

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

Davidsan, I have a JM that has been in the ground for 3 years. I am afraid that the area that it is planted is not going to be a good long term location. Can I move it now and not harm it much?

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm not Davidsan but I've moved trees that have been in the ground more than three years and they did very well. However, as Davidsan says I'm in pretty ideal JM country. You may find a long center root and feel that it is dangerous to cut it but the tree will be all right. One of the biggest dangers in moving a tree is to make sure that you are not moving it directly into sun from a shady place. I have had trees die of that.

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

This tree is in sun now most of the day and then gets late afternoon shade. Ornida nikishki is the tree. It is planted where there is an old septic tank. I am afraid as it grows it will not be able to set a good root base.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

marie i would wait until March just before the buds break to move the tree - and i would not expect any problems with a three year old tree - this would be the year it would start to take off so try and get the entire root system - good luck!

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Marie, how deep is the septic tank? I ask because I've read multiple sources that say that JMs were relatively shallow-rooted trees. If the septic tank is not being used and you don't think you'll eventually need to excavate to get into it you could probably leave the tree where it is.

Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

also is it an old metal one or concrete? if concrete i would move the tree

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

See I am not sure. It was there when I moved in. We found out it was there when we had a tree truck back up there and cause a hole that we found out was the lid that had cracked. We also found out that is was not filled in so we had to do that. The tree is planted off to the side of it, I am guessing since I could dig down 2 ft to plant the tree.
I was just concerned that this tree will get about 15 ft tall and it will not have a solid hold of roots. Maybe I should not have planted it there.

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

Never plant to close to ANYTHING that might have to be replaced or repaired big mistake .. if the tank is not being used now then who cares plant it if being used and older yoiu will be having it replaced at sometime maybe soon .. in that case you will likely be replacing your tree too .. If a truck drove over it it may have leaks other places so you may get too much moisture I had that same problem and a with le area was always too wet for most Jms although many other plants survived you could draw a straight line where the drainage went and all jms and some blueberries died within a year too much moisture. best stay away from septics for numorous reasons

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

Ok, here is a pic of where it is planted. This is in the spring so the grass looks real nice. By summer it is almost dead and bare, because it wont grow very well there.

Thumbnail by marie_kap
Pepperell, MA(Zone 6a)

if the grass is dying there then it probably should be moved.

Dahlonega, GA

What kind of grass do you have . It may not be heat tolerant

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

It grows everywhere else but not in that area. I don't think the dirt is good dirt on top of that old septic tank. Around the tree it does ok, but not as it gets close to the house. I think the house shades it too much there also.

Danville, IN

And, it's already leaning towards the light, so it will be better balanced if it were moved into an area with more "balanced" exposure, I would think.

Williamstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

Thanks for all the advise. as soon as I can get out there and do it I will.

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