Citrus trees eventually grow quite large, and when they outgrow their original planting area, you may have to to move them to a new area with better conditions. According to the Gilbert, Arizona Water Conservation website, trees that are between the age of 2 and 5 years old are the easiest to successfully transplant. Older trees are often too large and are easily injured when moved. Transplanting trees in March, when the plant is growing and at its strongest.
Water the tree thoroughly a few days before the transplant to keep the roots from drying out, advises the North Dakota State University Extension.
Tie up low branches using a soft but strong rope. This prevents damage to the branches during transplant.
Cut down into the soil using a spade to reach the root ball of the tree, cutting roots coming off of the root ball in one clean chop with the blade of the spade. Cover the root ball with a wet burlap sack to keep roots moist. Leave dirt on the root ball when transplanting.
Dig a hole in the transplant location that is twice the size of the root ball. Dig the hole 1 inch shallower than the root ball depth, says Texas A&M University, to compensate for settling.
Lift the tree onto a tarp and gently slide it over to the transplant location and slide the tree into the hole. Cut any damaged roots with a sharp knife. Fill the hole in with dirt.
Water transplant site immediately after planting. Water the tree every 10 to 14 days if there is little rainfall, says North Dakota State University. Monitor the tree to make sure it doesn't dry out. Place a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture in the soil.