How to Transplant a Washington Palm


Transplanting a large palm into your yard can give you an "instant tree." This is preferred by people who don't want to wait several years for a little palm tree to mature. A common palm in the southern United States is the Washington palm, and this palm transplants easily with a large root ball. Palms generally transplant easier than deciduous trees due to their different root structure. Once a Washington palm is transplanted, it needs a lot of water to encourage new root growth and existing root survival.

Step 1

Moisten the soil around the Washington palm. Doing this will help keep the palm's root ball intact when dug.

Step 2

Remove one-half to one-third of the oldest leaves on the Washington palm. With less leaf surface area, the palm will better be able to conserve moisture until it becomes established.

Step 3

Dig straight down 1 foot away from the palm's trunk around the entire circumference of the palm. Dig down to a depth of 2 feet. You are creating a 2 foot by 2 foot root ball.

Step 4

Work the shovel underneath the trunk of the palm. Don't worry about severing some roots; it's impossible to save all the roots of the Washington palm when transplanting.

Step 5

Lift the palm out of the ground. Depending on how large your palm is, you may need a forklift to lift it out. If you are using a forklift, tie a nylon strap around the trunk of the palm, attach to the forks of a forklift and slowly lift the palm straight up.

Step 6

Dig out the planting hole at the new location. It should be twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep.

Step 7

Lower the Washington palm into the planting hole and backfill the dirt around the rootball. Water the soil thoroughly while backfilling to prevent any air pockets from forming.

Step 8

Support your palm for the first year it's in the ground so the roots can establish themselves. The best way to support a palm is to secure 2-by-4 boards to the trunk using nylon straps. Then position longer lengths of 2-by-4 boards from the ground to the boards that are secured to the trunk. Nail them together to secure in place.

Step 9

Water your Washington palm frequently during the first four to six months to keep the root ball moist. After this period of time, you can reduce or eliminate irrigation.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never nail support boards into the trunk of the Washington palm. If done, disease can enter the palm, which may eventually kill it. Palms are unable to heal trunk wounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Water source
  • Shovel
  • Nylon straps
  • Forklift
  • 2-by-4 boards
  • Saw
  • Nails
  • Hammer


  • Sun Palm Trees: Mexican Fan Palm Trees
  • University of Florida: Transplanting Palms in the Landscape
Keywords: transplant a washington palm, tree spade, planting hole, moisten the soil, support your palm

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.