How to Transplant a Birch Tree in Minnesota


According to the University of Minnesota, transplanting refers to digging a plant up from one location and moving it to another. Transplanting a birch tree in Minnesota begins in the fall, while the actual moving takes place in early spring, prior to the buds breaking open on the upper branches. All transplanted trees, regardless of the species, will loose many roots in the move. The goal is to retain as many roots as possible for the tree's survival.

Step 1

Draw a circle around the trunk of the birch tree with the blade end of the shovel. The diameter of the circle must be 20 to 24 inches in diameter for every 1 inch of the small tree's trunk diameter.

Step 2

Prune the roots of the young birch tree by plunging the blade end of the shovel into the ground. Follow the outline of the circle you drew. The goal is to sever the growing roots in the fall while the leaves are still on the tree. The root pruning encourages the birch tree to grow a more compact root system over the winter season.

Step 3

Water the birch trees new root zone area. Keep the area moist. Layer 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the new root zone. Keep the mulch 2 inches from the main trunk.

Step 4

Prune any dead limbs from the upper branches of the young birch tree with pruning shears. Wait until spring for the next step.

Step 5

Dig down 3 inches past the root zone area you pruned last fall. This will entail digging a trench around the birch tree using the same outline you made last fall. Pry the soil upwards under the new root ball of the birch tree. The ideal time to remove a young birch tree from the soil in Minnesota is when the young buds on the upper limbs are just beginning to break open.

Step 6

Work the shovel under the root ball of the birch tree. Lift the root ball as intact as possible from the old location.

Step 7

Set the birch tree and its root ball on a tarp. Drag the tree to its new planting location.

Step 8

Dig the new transplanting hole slightly larger than the root ball on the birch tree transplant.

Step 9

Set the birch tree into the new hole. Keep the top of the root ball slightly above the existing soil line.

Step 10

Backfill the native soil around the root ball of the birch tree. Tamp the soil into place with your hands.

Step 11

Irrigate the tree into the soil with plenty of water. The water will remove any excess air from around the roots and improve the root ball to native soil contact. Keep the soil around the birch tree moist.

Step 12

Layer mulch around the tree to a final depth of 4 inches. Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears
  • Tarp


  • University of Minnesota: My Minnesota Woods
  • University of Minnesota: My Minnesota Woods Preparing for the Move (PDF)
  • University of Minnesota: My Minnesota Woods Making the Move (PDF)

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota: Moving and Transplanting Trees with a Tree Spade
Keywords: tree spades, transplant minnesota birch, move small trees

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.