Transplanting trees

Asked April 5, 2020, 9:00 AM EDT

IHere in Duluth, the snow is off 3/4 of our yard. Some of the soil can be dug now. What is the best time for transplanting small trees? Anytime now after the ground is workable, wait until leaves start to appear, or some other timing? Thanks! Ron

St. Louis County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi Ron,
Thank you for writing.
Fall or at least after the mid-summer heat are the best time to plant. https://local.extension.umn.edu/local/article/fall-the-best-time-plant-trees-and-shrubs-0

But, spring is the time when there is the best stock available.
My experience goes this way. Planting a tree is like painting. 90% of the success is due to the preparation. The preparation varies according to whether it is bagged or bare-root, rootbound, etc.

Dig a big hole, twice the size of the burlap or twice the size of the splayed out roots. Aggressively free up a rootball, even cutting it at the sides and bottom with a sharp shovel.
Amend the local soil with soil that is organic with peat or moss or fine mulch.
It is stone cold critical that you get the height correct. Your hole will be 6-12 inches deeper than the tree, then add amended soil, then put the tree in and make sure that it is not too deep (see directions or videos). Rotate the tree and then someone should hold it while another person shovels in dirt. SOAK. Follow the watering guide I have enclosed.

Now back to your question. You are in Duluth, not Phoenix. You have more flexibility. This is too early. Early June would be better. August would be best.

Gene Schmidt, Duluth, is right on.


Some general information: https://extension.umn.edu/how/planting-and-transplanting-trees-and-shrubs

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/watering-newly-planted-trees-and-shrubs

https://extension.umn.edu/news/tips-successful-tree-planting