How to Transplant Pine Trees


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    Pine trees are native to North America and an excellent choice for your backyard landscape but if don’t want to grow them from seeds they will need to be transplanted.

    There are more than 30 species of pine trees and most are easy to move to a new location. Even the healthiest trees from the wild or a nursery can die if improperly replanted so make sure to have a plan before you start.

    Necessary Gear

    Evergreen Trees

    Step by Step Guide for Transplanting Pine Trees

    Here are a few tips and tricks to transplant your pine trees so they continue to grow in your backyard, garden or mini forest. Follow our step by step guide and to successfully replant your pine trees.

    Step 1: Prepare the Tree

    Start by using a small hand shovel to cut a circle 1.5′ around the trunk of the tree a few months before the move. The cuts should be about 12″ deep and encircle the entire tree. This process will cut the longer roots and make it easier to remove from the ground. If you are transplanting a seedling make sure to be extra careful!

    Step 2: Prepare the Soil and Grass

    Prepare the location for the new tree by tilling the soil, removing the grass and weeds and pre watering the ground. This will prepare the soil to receive the pine tree and ensure good growth once the transplanting is complete.

    Step 3: Dig a Planting Hole

    Dig a hole in the garden or yard using a large shovel. The hole planting hole should be at least 1′ deep. It is important that the hole is about 6″ deeper than the roots and twice as wide. Make sure the hole is not too deep or too shallow or the tree may have trouble settling in the new environment.

    Step 4: Remove the Pine Tree

    When you area ready to move the tree use your large shovel to further widen and deepen your hole. Slide the shovel under the root ball by wiggling it back and forth. Your goal is to lift the tree out of the soil while causing as little damage as possible to the root system. Once it is out of the ground place it on its side in a wheelbarrow or tarp.

    Step 5: Prepare for Travel

    Cover the root ball in a towel or tarp to protect the roots during the move. The trunk is tough and unlikely to suffer any long-term damage but the root system and root ball is sensitive and needs to be protected. If the plant will be out of the ground for more than 2 days the roots will need to be watered.

    Step 6: Replant the Tree

    Before transplanting the pine tree into the ground place a few inches of soil into the bottom. Next set the root ball into the bottom of the hole and fill with soil. Gently fill the rest of the hole until the soil is level with the surrounding ground. Make sure to water the roots without flooding the tree or overly pushing the soil down. Cover the surrounding are with mulch to protect the tree in its new location.

    Editors Note

    Make sure you are allowed to remove any pine trees you are transplanting from private property, public parks or even the forest.  You may be surprised to learn that some areas do not allow wild trees to be removed without prior permission!

    Best Time of Year

    The best time of year to transplant a pine tree is early spring or fall. Pine trees are an evergreen tree and they can be successfully replanted any time of year that the ground is not frozen but will take to their new location when it is not too hot or too cold.

    Pine Tree Transplant Shock

    Pine trees can go into shock if they are not transplanted correctly. Make sure to protect the root ball and get the tree back into the ground as soon as possible. After replanting the plant seedlings make sure to keep the soil moist – and provide tree shelter if the seedlings are too small to survive on their own!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you dig up and replant pine trees?

    Yes. Pine trees can be moved and replanted as long as the tree can be taken from the ground without too much damage to the root system.

    Do Pine trees have deep roots?

    Yes. Small trees root systems can be up to 10 feet deep while larger pines root balls can be as deep as 50 feet.

    Can you transplant White Pine?

    Yes. White pine is one of the easiest trees to successfully transplant from the wild to your garden.

    How do you transplant a Ponderosa pine?

    Ponderosa pine trees can be transplanted by digging out the root system then gently removing from the ground and placing into a similar size hole in your garden.