How to Replant Cedar Trees


Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is part of the juniper family, while American or Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) are in the cypress family. Eastern red cedar is an early-succession shrub or small tree, usually growing to 30 feet high in pastureland as it converts back to forest, while Western and Northern cedars are forest trees growing 75 feet high or more. All three cedars have rot-resistant, aromatic lumber used for fence posts, maritime and cabinetry applications. Replant these trees successfully when they are very small, by replicating the elements of their natural growing environment.

Step 1

Identify cedar seedlings you wish to transplant, and obtain permission from the landowner for removal of the seedlings. Select seedlings no larger than 2 feet high, preferably smaller, and mark them with surveyor's tape.

Step 2

Trim the root stock of the desired transplants the spring before transplanting: Cut a vertical circle in the ground with a flat-bladed shovel or tree-planting shovel with a 1-foot diameter around the intended transplant. Embed the shovel about 10 inches deep into the ground.

Step 3

Dig the marked and prepared transplant in the early autumn, using a flat bladed shovel or tree-planting shovel inserted into the root-trimming circle made the previous spring. Remove the transplant and place it in a wheelbarrow or large plastic feed tub for transport to the desired replanting site.

Step 4

Moisten the root balls of the transplants with water to prevent the roots from drying out.

Step 5

At the replanting site, dig a hole 2 feet wide by 1 foot deep at each location in which you wish to plant cedar transplants. Locate the holes in full sun, 10-20 feet apart for Eastern red cedar, and in forest canopy shade 20-30 feet apart for other varieties.

Step 6

Mix sand and compost by equal volumes, and place 3 or 4 cups of this mixture in the bottom of each hole to form a cone shape. Array the roots of each cedar transplant over this cone. Holding the cedar transplant upright by its main stem, fill the hole back in with the dirt dug out of the hole, keeping the cedar held vertically so that the base of its stem is at grade level.

Step 7

Tamp down the soil around the newly replanted cedar, then water thoroughly. Fill in with additional soil if watering drops the soil level around the main trunk below grade.

Step 8

Water daily for one week, then weekly for three months, unless rainfall makes this unnecessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat bladed shovel or tree-planting shovel
  • Cedar seedlings growing in their natural habitat
  • Surveyor's tape
  • Wheelbarrow or large plastic feed tub
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Water source


  • Planting Techniques for Trees and Shrubs, N. Carolina Extension
  • Planning for Tree Planting, Ontario Extension
  • Native Trees for Landscape Use, U. Minn. Extension

Who Can Help

  • Seed Quality and Comparison of Planting Techniques for Atlantic White Cedar
Keywords: cedar trees, replace trees, replant cedars

About this Author

Cindy Hill has practiced law since 1987 and maintained a career in freelance writing since 1978. Hill has won numerous fiction and poetry awards and has published widely in the field of law and politics. She is an adjunct instructor of ethics and communications.