Tree Transplanting Methods

Successful tips for transplanting trees

Cherry tree-tree-transplanting-methods
Cherry tree

To move or not to move is the question but then again this is not a question pre-say but something that many home gardeners wrestle with. There is nothing like having a nice healthy tree that is growing so well then one day you notice that your tree was installed in the wrong place.

Maybe it has become a security hazard or it may have outgrown that area or some other reason but whatever the reason you don’t want to touch that tree. I know what I will do I will prune it back.

While pruning has its benefits sometimes you just have to move the tree, so suck it up, take a deep breathe or swallow and go for it don’t let fear cause you to freeze, like the Nike sign, says JUST DO IT however, this calls for some know-how before making an attempt.

Tree transplanting failures

I have seen so many trees that have died under the care of many major landscaping companies, trees that were worth thousands. I myself have also faced this problem over the years the trees were not in the thousands of dollars but to lose those trees was not a good experience but hey who’s perfect we all learn and get better as we increase our knowledge.

Tree Transplanting Methods

Here are some cool tips that will help you along the way. Don’t sweat it, before you know it you will be on your way to having much success with these tips.

There are two methods basically in which to remove trees except for container-grown trees.

  • Bare root method
  • Soil ball method

Container grown plant

I know you will agree that container-grown plants are among the easiest to transplant. It is all a matter of knowing what plant material you are working with, as far as height and diameter or spread of the plant is concerned along with light requirements. This is very important so that your plant can have sufficient room to grow along with adequate sunlight.

Bare root method-(no soil around or attached to plant roots)

Using this method is easy to maneuver plants. The downside is that some plant species have a harder time becoming established because roots tend to dry out much faster and the loss of plant roots is also greater with this method along with some loss of top growth(foliage or leaves). With the bare-root, the method installs the tree as quickly as possible.

  • A third of the top growth should also be removed the reason being the top growth makes a big demand on the root system so by removing a third of the top growth will place less demand for water on the root system that is using energy trying to be re-establish by putting forth new roots.
  • Remove any roots that are damaged
  • The planting hole should be wide and deep enough for roots to sit comfortably. The plant should be installed where the base of the plant is above ground while all the roots are underground. If a part of the truck is allowed to be planted underground your plant roots will suffocate along with your plants suffering from vitamin deficiencies. Your planting too deeply.
  • Using organic soil is a plus. A key here is to know your plant’s soil requirements
  • Form a catch basin around your plant, the reason for this is that the catch basin will not only hold water but will also direct water into the root zone

Soil ball method

This technique involves removing the plant with a good amount of soil attached to the roots of the tree in a ball. This method is often used on large trees especially when transplanting palms.

The soil ball is wrapped in burlap and then watered, this will keep the plant in good condition until time to install. At the time of planting burlap can be removed from the rootball or it can remain on the rootball just lose from your plant and spread in the hole. Burlap is bio-degradable and will break down over time.

Follow these tips as shown under the bare root method the only difference is when using the soil ball method the planting hole should be two times that of the root ball. The reason for this is so that the root ball can sit comfortably in the planting hole.

Tree bracing-Tree transplanting methods
Diagram of tree bracing

Tree Transplanting Methods

Other transplanting tips

  • While transplanting palm trees tie fronds or branches with strips of burlap, twine, or other bio-degradable straps. This procedure will keep the plants from shifting until it’s established. Once established manually remove straps or if preferred leave straps, because they are bio-degradable they will break down and loosen because of the elements( sun, rain, and wind)
  • Mix native soil with organic soil and place in the hole
  • Next place the tree in the whole ensuring it is erected
  • Then backfill with the soil
  • If the tree needs to stake then do so at this time
  • Form a catch basin around the tree trunk
  • With a garden host allow water to fill the basin, the water will not only be directed into the root ball but will allow the soil to settle around rots removing any air pockets which can cause roots to dry out
  • keep the soil moist at all times not waterlogged. You don’t want roots to dry out because this a critical time for plants to re-establish
  • Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer. When using fertilizers read and follow the label because the label is the law
  • Depending on the size of the tree, tree stakes or support can be removed after 8-16 months

The final word

These methods can be effective whether you are removing your tree from one area to the next or you are installing new plants. So give these tips a try your tree will love you for it.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

8 thoughts on “Tree Transplanting Methods”

  1. Wow, tree transplanting. I have never thought about this until I came upon your site. Very interesting information. Now I’m looking at a tree in my yard I would like to move lol. I have plants in mind that I want to move and your article has definitely helped me in that area. Great information, thanks for writing this.

  2. I’m so glad to find another quality garden website! I love gardening, but haven’t gotten brave enough to transplant anything yet. I do have some plants in my flowerbed and a small tree that I would love to move, but I am so scared of killing them all. I’m not sure what the tree is because it was here when we bought our home, but I would like it on the other end of my lawn. Maybe with your tips I will get brave and do it.

    • Hello Theresa my dear lady so happy to meet you and thanks a million for your kind words they mean so much to me. Glad that I could help, you can do it I know that you can just follow these steps and you will be fine. Please let me know how it goes if that is all right with you. Have a wonderful day.

  3. I am so glad that I came upon your site! We will be moving in a month, and I want to take a 5′ evergreen tree with us that we found when it was about 2″ tall. We had it in a pot for about a year and then planted it near the spot where we had spread our dog’s ashes.

    Now we’re moving, and the tree means so much to me that the new owners have given us permission to take it with us when we leave. But I was hesitant because I don’t want to kill the tree by transplanting it. With your great tips I feel confident that we can successfully transplant it on our new property!

    • Hello so nice to hear from you and so sorry to hear about your dog. So happy that I could help. All the best to both you and your family. Please let me know how the tree transplanting operation goes if that is all right with you. Have a good day.

  4. I have to confess that I don’t have much of a green thumb. But over the last few years, I have been getting much better with the help of my boyfriend who loves working outside. We will be transplanting a few bushes this year so your site will be very helpful. Thanks for all the valuable tips!

    • Hello Wendy so happy to meet you and glad I could help. Wishing you the best of garden success and please let me know how it goes. Have a good day.


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