Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Transplant a Cedar Tree

Red Cedar at Picton castle April 2008 image by David Stirrup from

Cedar trees are best transplanted when they are small and easy to handle. As the trees mature, they develop a long taproot, which, if cut or broken, could kill the tree during the transplant process. When purchasing cedar trees to transplant in your yard, look for trees that are less than 2 feet tall and have the taproot intact as part of the root ball.

Digging up a Tree

Choose a tree to transplant that is no larger than 1 to 2 feet tall.

Start approximately 1 foot from the base of the tree and insert the shovel, fully into the dirt, at a downward, sloped angle toward the tree.

Repeat this process around the entire tree.

Insert the shovel under the loosened dirt and gently press the shovel blade upward. Do this all around the tree.

Attempt to lift the tree from the hole. If it comes loose, it is ready to transplant. If not, locate the taproot in the hole and use a hand trowel or rounded shovel to dig it loose.

Replanting the Tree

Choose an area where the tree can grow uninterrupted until it has reached maturity. Cedars like loose, loamy soil but are tolerant of most soil types.

Dig a hole half again as large and as deep as the hole you dug to remove the tree. If this is a purchased tree, dig the hole twice the size of the root ball.

Place the tree into the hole and use a garden hose to fill the hole with water.

Allow the water to seep into the surrounding dirt and then fill the hole with the removed dirt, packing it in tightly around the trunk using your hands or the back of the shovel.

Water the tree a second time. Mulch around the tree with cedar bark or hay to a depth of 1 to 2 inches.


Cedar trees are drought tolerant but should be watered if the needles begin to brown or yellow.

When planting cedar trees, plant them away from apple trees to avoid cedar apple rust disease that is not only unsightly but will kill the apple tree.

Garden Guides