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How to Transplant Hemlock Trees

shovel in truck image by Andrew Orlemann from

The hemlock tree is native to areas in the United States where it was one of the conifers found in the dense forests of the northwestern region. The tree height varies by species, but can reach from 70 to 150 feet. Hemlock trees form a pyramidal shape with gracefully drooping branches. Choose to transplant small hemlock trees that are less than 4 feet in height for best results.

Estimate the size of the hemlock root ball by measuring a diameter that is as wide as the branch length and a depth that is one-quarter the height of the tree.

Dig a hole in the new hemlock planting location twice as wide as the estimated root ball and the same depth. Verify there are no overhead hazards that will cause a problem, since the hemlock is a tall growing tree.

Note the direction the hemlock tree is facing and mark the north side of the tree by tying a piece of cloth on a branch.

Remove the root ball by digging around the hemlock tree in a diameter as wide as the branch length and a depth one-quarter the height of the tree. Dig a 4-foot tall tree to a depth of 1 foot.

Lift the hemlock tree from the hole by lifting the root ball (not the trunk) to prevent damage. Set the tree on a plastic or nylon tarp. Wrap the tarp around the root ball and move the hemlock tree to the new location.

Mix a nutrient rich topsoil into the removed soil at a rate of one-third amendment and two-thirds removed soil. Add 2 inches of amended soil to the bottom of the new hemlock planting hole and tamp in place.

Set the root ball into the new planting hole, making sure the north side of the tree is facing north and the root ball is 1 inch above the ground level. Fill amended soil into the bottom half of hole and fill the remaining area with water. Fill the remaining hole with soil and tamp to prevent air pockets.

Cover the root ball area with 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch to assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth around the hemlock tree.

Water the tree one to two times a week to keep the soil moist during the first growing season. Use a slow-drip method by drilling a 1/4-inch hole at the bottom edge of a five-gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with water, set it at the base of the tree and let the water slowly drip out.

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