How to Transplant Sawtooth Oak


The sawtooth or gobbler oak (Quercus acutissima) is a large and attractive ornamental tree. This exceptionally hardy tree is often used to line residential streets because it can tolerate air pollution, poorly drained and compacted soil, and prolonged periods of drought. Once established, the sawtooth oak can live for centuries. However, to reach a ripe old age, a sawtooth oak must be transplanted with care.

Uproot the Sawtooth Oak

Step 1

Water your sawtooth oak the day before the transplant. After you water, mark the north side of the tree's trunk with a sticker or other marker.

Step 2

Tie your sawtooth oak's branches together loosely. This will prevent them from becoming damaged in the move.

Step 3

Dig a trench around the tree. The circumference of the trench should be at least 1 foot wider than the roots of your sawtooth oak's root ball (or wide enough to incorporate as much of the root ball as is feasible) and as deep as your tree's canopy is tall (or deep enough to incorporate as much of the root ball as is feasible). The sawtooth oak is a tough tree and it can survive as long as most of its roots are intact.

Step 4

Undercut the tree. Use a sharp shovel to dig underneath the tree's root ball to loosen the dirt under the root ball. If your were unable to dig deeply enough to incorporate all of the sawtooth oak's roots, any thick roots can be severed with a sharp thrust from your shovel or hand pruned with a pair of pruning shears.

Step 5

Lay your section of burlap on the ground next to the tree.

Step 6

Lift the tree out of the hole and place it in the center of the burlap. Wrap the burlap around the tree's root ball and secure the loose ends around the trunk with twine.

Dig the Hole

Step 1

Dig a hole that is twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball of your sawtooth oak.

Step 2

Set aside 1/3 of the soil.

Step 3

Mix the set aside soil with equal amounts of aged compost and peat moss. While sawtooth oaks can adapt to any type of soil, they prefer to grow in well-drained acidic soil. Starting your transplanted sawtooth oak in this soil mixture will encourage it to establish itself.

Step 4

Back fill the soil mixture into the hole until it is a little more than halfway full.

Plant the Sawtooth Oak

Step 1

Remove the burlap from the tree's root ball.

Step 2

Orient the tree so that the marker on its trunk faces north. Gently nestle the sawtooth oak's root ball over the soil, taking care not to bend or break any of its roots. When settled into the hole, the top of the sapling's root ball should be an inch or 2 higher than the surrounding ground. If not, lift the sapling out and back fill more soil until it sits at the right height.

Step 3

Finish back filling the hole until the sawtooth oak is planted and there is no more than 2 inches of soil covering its root ball. Then pat the soil down with your hands to remove any air pockets that may be in the soil.

Step 4

Water the sawtooth oak. The best way to make sure that water reaches the bottom of the root ball is to place a slow-running hose over the planting area until the soil is quite moist. Keep the planting area moist to the depth of the root ball until the tree establishes itself and produces new growth. After that point it should need no further irrigation.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Aged compost
  • Peat moss
  • Hose


  • Virginia Tech: Quercus acutissima Fact Sheet
  • University of Florida: Quercus acutissima
  • Tree Help: Transplanting Trees
Keywords: transplant sawtooth, sawtooth oak, transplant oak

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.