Elisabeth C. Miller Library

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Knowledgebase record #528


PAL Question

I need advice on moving a Japanese Maple tree. The tree is 10 feet tall, and has begun to grow unevenly because it was planted too close to a very large wisteria in front of our house. Ideally, we would only move it 8-10 feet, as there is a wide open space with lots of sunlight just east of its current home. I don't know how deep the Japanese Maple typically roots, or how difficult this may be, but any information you could provide would be very much appreciated.

Answer

According to the book Japanese Maples by J. D. Vertrees (Timber Press, 1987), Japanese maples do not have deep, tap-root structures, but are mainly a fibrous root network which stays in the upper level of the soil. As they mature, however, there will be roots going deeper, so if you are planning to move the tree, you will want to be sure to get as much of the root ball as possible. If the tree is not too old, it should be easier. Make sure to water the tree well and prepare the new site before you begin digging carefully.

The Royal Horticultural Society has general information on moving mature trees and shrubs which may be of use to you, keeping in mind that fall is a good time for you to move a tree here in the Northwest.

You can also contact a certified arborist for advice. For a referral, contact Plant Amnesty. You can also go directly to the local chapter of ISA, the International Society of Arboriculture.

Keywords: Acer palmatum, Transplanting
Date: 2008-02-08

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