How to Transplant Live Oak Trees Correctly


Live oak trees are known for their shade qualities and long life spans. Transplanting an oak tree enables landscapers to place the tree in a better location for maturity. Oak trees can reach heights of 60 to 80 feet and should never be located too close to permanent structures or power lines. These native American trees grow best in U.S. hardiness zones 7 to 10. For trees taller than 5 feet, plan on someone assisting with the transplant.

Step 1

Prune away any diseased, wilted or weak portions of the tree with sterilized pruning shears before transplanting. Spray tree wound dressing on all cuts made. If more than a quarter of the tree was pruned, wait one week for the oak to recover from shock before transplanting.

Step 2

Measure the oak tree's height with measuring tape. Divide this in half. Measure out from the tree's trunk this distance. Dig up the oak tree at this distance, using a shovel. Dig around the tree in a circle, instead of just digging from one side, to create the least amount of stress. Dig the same depth as the tree's divided height.

Step 3

Stand the oak tree in a wheelbarrow or bucket filled with warm tap water. The objective is to keep the roots moist after digging up the tree.

Step 4

Dig a hole twice the root ball height and diameter in the area you plan to replant the tree.

Step 5

Stand the oak tree in the hole. Backfill with dirt dug from the original hole.

Step 6

Place a 4-inch layer of organic mulch at the base of the tree. Keep the mulch from touching the tree's trunk.

Step 7

Water until the ground is saturated to help establish the root system.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never transplant diseased or infected oak trees. Resolve the problems before transplanting.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterilized pruning shears
  • Tree wound dressing
  • Sterilized shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • Wheelbarrow or large bucket
  • Water
  • Organic mulch


  • Clemson University Extension: Live Oak
  • U.S. Forest Service Department of Agriculture: Quercus Virginiana--Southern Live Oak
Keywords: transplant live oaks, transplant oak tree, live oak trees

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.