Root Pruning (or Slowly Killing) the Strawberry Tree

There is a strawberry tree planted in the front yard that (in my opinion) needs to move. The strawberry tree fruit are not very tasty, and this tree is taking up valuable real estate in the relatively sunny front yard, and it’s planted kind of awkwardly in the yard and is going to (very soon) be much too big for the space.

So it needs to go.

My dad had planted this tree a few years ago, and so, even though there are two more strawberry trees in the backyard, instead of just cutting it down, I decided we would try to move it.

I enlisted Nate’s help several weeks ago. The soil was very dry and very tough. It was almost like digging through a rock. But we dug….

….and dug….

We got a pretty decent sized trench dug around the tree, but the trick was digging under the tree to get the rootball out. And with the dry, rock hard soil, it was just not going to happen. I decided to take a break maybe wait for some rain to soften up the soil before taking another go at it.

Fortunately, I – unbeknownst to me before starting this endeavor – have actually increased this trees chances of surviving transplanting. What I unintentionally did by digging a large trench around the tree is called root pruning. Root pruning is a technique that is used in transplanting large trees. A year before transplanting, a trench is dug around the tree a few feet out from the trunk to cut the trees roots. This supposedly causes the tree to produce small feeder roots close to the tree trunk within the soon-to-be small root ball, which will serve the tree well when it comes time to transplant the tree.

In the meantime, Dad cut off several of the branches so it will be a bit easier to move to the backyard (if I ever get to that point).

We just had our first solid rainfall of the season. I was planning to get back out there and see if I can loosen up a bit more of the soil and get the tree out with a decent root ball. Perhaps I should wait until spring? It’s kind of an eyesore at this point, so I’d like to move it sooner rather than later.

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