How to Transplant a Tree

Written by Brooke Tolman (last updated October 15, 2021)

Tired of that tree blocking your view? Is that bush in the wrong place? With some time and energy you can move them to a more pleasant location. Transplanting trees and shrubs often appears to be deceptively easy; however without preparation and the proper steps, you can end up damaging or even killing your tree. Don't let that discourage you though, because transplanting trees can give your landscape a much needed facelift.

  1. Location, location, location. Before you dig up the tree, decide the ideal place to put your tree. You need to know if the tree likes sun or shade, lots of space or doesn't mind a lot of plants around it, etc. Plant it by other trees and plants that have similar needs.
  2. Estimate how big the root ball will be. Roughly speaking, the width of the new hole should be twice as big as the size of the root ball. You will have to do some investigative digging around the tree to see just how far out the roots go, so you'll know how big to dig your new hole.
  3. Dig your new hole, before you dig up your tree. Do not if you dig up your tree, and then dig your new hole. The tree's roots will fail to get the nutrients they need while it's sitting, and waiting to be transplanted, which lowers your chance of success. When you reach the bottom of your new hole, resist the urge to break up the dirt at the bottom, the more packed the dirt, then the less likely it is the roots will sink or rot.
  4. Dig out the tree. Don't dig right at the base, or you will likely damage the roots. Dig out and around the roots (you should know where those are from your exploratory digging from before). Try and keep as many of the roots connected, and keep as much dirt packed around it as possible.
  5. Lift and place. Depending on how big your tree is you might need a friend to help you lift it out of its old hole and into the new one. To make it easier, you can set it on a tarp and drag it over to its new location. Then gently place it in the new hole, straighten it, then start shoveling dirt back over it. As you do this, make sure to tap down the soil so as not to get air pockets.
  6. Mulch and water your tree. Create a mound around your tree to help catch water and act as a dam, this will help to ensure it stays hydrated.

Author Bio

Brooke Tolman

Brooke is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science. She currently resides in Seattle where she works as a freelance data analyst and personal trainer. She hopes to spend her life camping and traveling the world. ...


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