How To Transplant A Small Tree

Is there a small tree in an inconvenient place in your yard? Instead of just cutting it down, why not move it to a more desirable location? This guide will explain to you how to transplant a small (about 4 feet tall or smaller) tree or shrub.

Step 1: Tie up the tree's foliage.

This won't be necessary if you have a tree with only a few branches and little foliage. However, for broader shrubs, it can be very helpful when it comes time to dig up and transport the tree. Take a long rope, and wrap it around the middle of the tree. Pull it tight enough to bring the branches in close to the tree, but not so tight that you start hearing branches snap. Tie the rope in a knot.

Step 2: Dig up the tree.

For this job, you will want to use a type of shovel known as a nursery spade. It should have a long, pointy, spade end as opposed to the wider spade end you would see on most garden shovels. The sharpness of the spade will allow it to break through roots effectively.

Start digging in a circle about 12 inches out from the tree's base (to yield a circle with a 2 foot diameter). Each time you stick the spade down into the ground, pull back. When the circle is complete, the root ball (which is the tree's primary roots with soil attached) should be pretty easy to lift out of the ground. You may have to dig a little deeper in a few areas in order to free the root ball completely.

Step 3: Dig a new hole

Since your root ball should be about 2 feet wide, you want your new hole to be about 4 feet wide. This will make sure the surrounding soil is loose and easy for the roots to work their way into as they begin to grow. Dig the hole just about as deep as the root ball. For more information about landscape design, contact a landscaper in your area. 

Step 4: Plant the tree

Place the tree in the new hole, and have a helper hold the tree straight up and down while you fill the hole with the soil. Pack the soil in firmly, but not as tight as you can muster. Then, water the tree in well.  Keep watering until you can dig down (using your hands) into the soil and see that it is thoroughly wet underneath. This will help the tree overcome the shock associated with the transplant. In the days that follow, keep the tree well watered. Within a month or so, the tree should be firmly rooted in its new location and successfully re-established.

Transplanting a tree that is more than about 4 feet tall is very difficult, as the root system may be extensive by this point. For help transplanting a larger tree, contact a tree service company in your area.