How to Transplant Japanese Maple Trees


Japanese maples are some of the most gracefully ornamental small trees commonly available to gardeners and some of the named varieties are prized specimen trees. When you move, you may want to take yours with you, or you may decide it would look better in a different location. Though any tree will lose roots in the process, with some extra planning and care, you can successfully transplant these lovely trees.

Take Care Of The Roots

Step 1

Plan ahead to make the move as easy as possible. In spring, cut a circle with a shovel around the roots at the drip line of the tree, the edge of the branches. Using a loppers, cut any roots too thick to prune with the shovel. This prunes the roots, forcing new roots to grow within the circle, roots that will nourish the tree after its move.

Step 2

In fall, dig the tree out of the ground along the same line you cut in spring. If the root ball is too heavy to lift, wash some of the soil off with a hose. Place the root ball on a tarp to drag it to the new location. If it will be out of the ground for more than a few minutes, wrap the roots in the tarp.

Step 3

Dig a hole about a foot wider and deeper than the root ball. Fluffing up the soil in this manner helps promote root growth into the new ground.

Step 4

Place the root ball in the hole so that the roots will be covered to the same depth that they were originally. Pack the soil back into the hole with your hands, pressing it in to remove any pockets of air. Water well.

Step 5

Water again with about a gallon of transplanting solution containing vitamin B-1, mixed according to the directions on the container.

Step 6

Reduce the leaf area that the roots need to support by pruning off about half of the smallest shoots, using your pruning shears. There is no need to prune back the larger branches and destroy the shape of the trees, just take off half the leaf buds.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your tree is large, with a trunk 4 inches or more in diameter, consider planting a new specimen. Larger trees take longer to recover and begin growing strongly again. Or, if the tree is valuable and you're sure you want to keep it, you may have to hire help to move it.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Lopper
  • Pruning shears
  • Transplant solution containing Vitamin B-1
Keywords: pruning maples, Japanese maple care, transplanting Japanese maples

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.