With repotting season in full swing, I thought I would give an overview of how I repot a tree using a Trident Maple (Kaede) that was once displayed at the Kokufu-ten.
The first thing I do is make sure I have all the tools I need. The goal is to minimize the amount of time the tree is out of the pot, so having everything you need will allow you to work more efficiently.
Next, I take a sickle and use long, smooth, shallow strokes along the length of the pot edge and slowly work my way down. I’ve found this more efficient than trying to get the blade all the way down into the soil and then yanking the tool toward you. Anything I can do to save energy helps me later, especially when repotting multiple trees during the day.
Once the tree is loose I lean the tree back and pull the pot down. This is an easy was to remove the tree from the pot. When handling the tree, never grab the trunk, this will damage and discolor the bark. Try to lift the tree by the root ball or at a strong branch junction .
The root work is finished for now.The tree is tied to the pot using the 4 point tie down method.
The soil is worked into the roots with a chopstick and tamped down. Tamping the soil may seem like an unnecessary task, however it is important because it firms up the soil so that when you water the tree the soil doesn’t wash out. I begin at the trunk and work toward the rim of the pot keeping the tamper at a slight angle which pushes the soil against the pot wall. When I get to the edge of the pot I use my fingers to press down on the tamper and “set the edge” which results in a crisp, clean soil line.The last thing is to water the tree. Make sure to water the tree until the water coming out of the pot is clear, indicating that all the fine dust has been washed out of the pot.