Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Transplant a Norway Spruce

The lake Østernvann in Bærum in Norway image by Einar Bog from

The Norway spruce tree is a tall growing evergreen conifer that reaches a height up to 80 feet with a branch spread up to 40 feet. The tree is native to northern and central Europe, forms an attractive pyramid shape, and is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 3 through 7. Plant the Norway spruce in an area that accommodates the height of the tree. Choose to transplant a Norway spruce with a trunk diameter of 5 inches or smaller for best success with moving the tree.

Test the soil pH of the new Norway spruce planting location to verify it is 5.0 to 7.5. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil to a depth of 10 to 14 inches to lower the pH if needed. Water the soil well after making the amendment and let it rest a minimum of two weeks before transplanting the tree.

Mark a digging ring around the Norway spruce tree with spray paint or chalk by estimating the diameter of the root ball. Calculate the root ball size by correlating 1 inch of trunk diameter for each foot in diameter of root ball. A Norway spruce with a 6-inch diameter tree trunk will require digging a 6-foot diameter hole to remove the tree.

Note the direction the Norway spruce is facing so it is transplanted facing the same direction. Dig around the Norway spruce root ball to a depth of 3 to 5 feet. Remove as much of the root ball mass as possible.

Force three to four strong wooden planks under the root ball and pry the tree out of the ground. Snip roots that are preventing the tree from lifting out of the ground with a clean pruning clipper. Set the root ball on a nylon tarp to prevent soil loss or root damage during transport.

Dig a planting hole that is slightly wider and the same depth as the previous growing location for the Norway spruce. Mix equal amounts of organic compost into the removed soil to increase the water-draining properties around the root ball.

Set the Norway spruce into the planting hole, making sure it is facing the same direction as the previous location. Fill half of the hole with the amended soil and saturate well with water to compact the soil. Fill the remaining hole area with soil after the water has absorbed into the surrounding soil.

Water the Norway spruce immediately after planting and daily for the first two weeks so the soil moistens to a depth of 10 to 14 inches. Provide supplemental water to the tree during periods of drought to prevent foliage damage.

Garden Guides