Moving Trees: How to Transplant Mature Trees and Shrubs

It is possible to transplant mature trees and shrubs, although the process is not as simple as planting new ones. There are several reasons to relocate an established landscape plant, such as when you move into a house with existing trees that were planted too close to the house, with incorrect sun exposure, or in a place where deer or elk are harming it. It's also possible to move a tree if it's alone in the middle of your yard and you want to bring it closer to your fence to block the view of the road and closer to other tree friends. No matter the reason, it's important to prepare roots well before moving to ensure they stay healthy and ready to re-establish in the new location.

Use natural burlap and twine to hold the root ball together and protect it during movement. Then place something under the burlap ball to drag, roll or bring the plant to its new location. Ask for the help of a friend, rented equipment or a professional if necessary to ensure that the tree has a safe trip. When you arrive at the new planting location, remove the burlap and place it in the new planting hole.

It must be the same depth as the root ball and between 50 and 100 percent wider. Fill with soil and water thoroughly. If the tree is smaller, planted on flat ground and is not exposed to a lot of wind, it should not be necessary to stake it. In addition, add a thick layer of mulch around the tree, making sure to keep the area near the trunk clear.

Early spring (before growth begins) and autumn (after leaves have fallen) are the best time to transplant deciduous trees. For those who plan to take their special tree with them wherever they go, there are special moving companies whose only job is to transplant trees from one place to another. No matter how big the tree is, there are carriers available to take it anywhere you want. The larger the tree and the greater the distance it has to travel, the more expensive it will be to transplant.

The tree will need to be transported from its previous location to its new location, or possibly to and from an off-site storage location. The route between these places should provide sufficient horizontal and vertical spaces for transport. Secure the burlap with a twine to hold the soil together and bring the tree to its new position. When you return months later for the tree move, you will find new feeder roots that grow closer to the tree trunk when you remove the soil again.

Most trees will move well, assuming adequate time is allocated for proper fertilization, root pruning, digging the proper size root ball, and watering before and after transplanting. The hole doesn't have to be particularly deep; most tree roots grow on top two to three feet (0.6 to 0.9 m) above the ground. Dig your new hole before digging the tree or shrub, as you don't want to stress it out by leaving it with its roots exposed before you replant it. Add a 2-to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil above the root ball to help retain moisture and prevent cold damage if the tree doesn't move until after winter.

Bart Preti
Bart Preti

Hipster-friendly travel trailblazer. Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Devoted tv scholar. Passionate pop culture scholar. Devoted bacon expert. Avid coffee lover.

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