So you’ve found yourself wondering if transplanting a tree is easy? It certainly is not as difficult as people may think. In fact, generally speaking for most rugged smaller trees or plants, transplanting should be as easy as carefully following a few steps and ensuring you don’t damage the tree or its roots. Below are some of Treescape’s best tips when it comes to transplanting a smaller tree.

Research Before You Move Any Trees!

  1. Dial 881. Or, go to This service helps you locate underground utilities to ensure you’re planting the tree in the right place and won’t hit anything important like a gas or electricity line.
  2. Figure out root ball size. For small trees, the width of the root ball should be around 8 to 12 inches wide for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a tree that’s 1 1/2 inches in diameter needs a root ball that’s 12 to 18 inches wide. But wait! Before you uproot the tree, complete steps 3 and 4.
  3. Water the soil. Water 1 or 2 days before you transplant—that’ll make the process much smoother and give you a much stronger starting point.
  4. Dig a new home. Once you’ve picked the right place to plant, dig a hole that’s 2 or 3 times the width of the root ball and 1 or 2 inches deeper than the height of the root ball. It’s important to have the new planting site ready to go so you limit the amount of time the tree’s roots are exposed.
  5. Trench around tree roots. With a sharp spade, dig a circle around tree roots to create a root ball that’s the width you calculated in step 2. Dig down 1 to 2 feet, and then cut under the roots to round out the root ball.
  6. Transport the tree. Here’s where you’ll really want to take your time (and where it would be good to have an extra pair of hands.) Keeping the root ball secure is essential to the tree’s survival. To do that, cut a piece of burlap that’s large enough to cover the entire root ball. Then, carefully tip the root ball onto one side, and put the burlap in the hole. Roll the root ball onto the burlap, wrap it and secure it with twine. Lift the tree out of the hole from the bottom, making sure not to lift by the trunk. Then, gently carry the tree to the new planting spot.
  7. Plant the tree. Place the tree in its new hole with the top of the root ball just slightly (no more than an inch or two) above ground level. Planting trees too deep is a pretty common mistake, but one that is easy to avoid. When the tree is in place, cut and remove the burlap and twine, and then fill the hole with soil from the original planting site. You want to fill it up all the way to ensure a tight hold for your tree!
  8. Protect from transplant shock. The tree is set, but your job is not quite done! Water the tree thoroughly right after transplanting, and keep a close eye on it because even with the strongest trees, sometimes transplanting can be deadly.

Learn more about our Dillworth tree services – we cover much of the Charlotte metropolitan area and even work all the way out in Gastonia, NC. 

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