How to Transplant Japanese Trees


Japanese trees are small-growing deciduous trees planted as eye-appealing ornamental features in the home landscape. These trees offer striking foliage shapes with bright colors that create dramatic fall color changes. Many varieties of Japanese trees grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8. Transplant Japanese trees in fall once they go dormant to prevent tree and root damage.

Step 1

Select a new planting area for the Japanese tree making sure the soil is similar in content to the current location. Make sure the area receives full sunlight for at least six hours each day.

Step 2

Prepare the new planting area two weeks prior to transplanting by testing the soil pH as Japanese trees grow best in an acidic pH of 3.7 to 6.5.

Step 3

Amend the soil by adding ground rock sulfur to lower the pH according to the package directions. Add 3 inches of organic compost over the area at the same time adding sulfur, and work it to a depth of 8 to 10 inches with a tiller.

Step 4

Dig a planting hole in the new location prior to removing the tree. Dig a hole that is that is two to three times as wide as the Japanese root ball.

Step 5

Estimate the root ball size of the Japanese tree by measuring the diameter from the branch tips. Dig a hole around the Japanese tree the same as the measured diameter and to a depth that is one-quarter the height of the tree. Dig one foot deep for a 4 foot tall tree.

Step 6

Remove the root ball by prying the mass out of the ground with three or four planks. Set the root ball on a tarp and wrap it to transport it to the new location.

Step 7

Set the root ball into the new planting hole so the top is at ground level. Pack soil around the root ball followed by a good soaking of water that moistens the soil to a depth of 10 to 14 inches. Continue to apply water to the tree one to two times a week to keep the soil moist during the first growing season.

Step 8

Apply 3 to 4 inches of bark mulch over the root ball of the tree, making sure to leave a 6-inch gap between the trunk and beginning of the mulch to assist with soil moisture retention.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Organic compost
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Bark mulch


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Keywords: grow Japanese trees, plant Japanese trees, transplant Japanese trees

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.