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How to Transplant a Tower Poplar Tree

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tower poplars are tall, skinny trees.

Tower poplar trees (Populus x canescens "Tower") are narrow, tall trees that work well as a privacy screen or fence cover. They have dark green leaves and gray bark. Hardy up to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3, tower poplar trees are prone to suckering so gardeners must prune these trees regularly to keep them looking neat. While mature poplar trees should not be transplanted, still-developing trees can be moved to a new site.

Water your tower poplar for two to three days prior to the day you plan to transplant, adding liquid until the ground becomes saturated.

Measure the diameter of your tower poplar's trunk. For every inch of trunk diameter, estimate 6 inches of root ball depth and 9 to 12 inches of root ball width. You'll need these numbers when digging out the tree.

Dig a hole at the new site using your shovel. Make the hole twice as wide and just as deep as the tower poplar's estimated root ball. Pull out rocks, sticks and weeds from the hole. Jab your shovel at the bottom of the hole to loosen the soil, which helps the poplar tree adapt to its new setting.

Dig the tower poplar out of its current site, using a shovel. Start digging at twice the estimated root ball distance, moving in toward the tree trunk and down. Dig so you gather all of the tree's roots in a ball below the tree trunk. Stop digging when you can see the size and shape of this root ball and you appear to have loosened the tree from the soil.

Grasp the poplar tree's trunk to pull it out of the ground. If the tree doesn't come up out of the ground, trim any roots that are still attached to the soil using clippers. Inspect the root ball and trim the ends of any broken roots with clippers.

Carry the tree to your new location, or place a heavy tree in a wheelbarrow and wheel it over.

Set the tower poplar in the new hole so it sits at the same depth as it did in its old home. Keep the tree's trunk straight.

Fill in the hole with soil. Firm the soil around the tree trunk. Water the newly transplanted poplar tree until the ground becomes saturated.


Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Clippers
  • Wheelbarrow


  • Select the new site for your tower poplar based on the amount of light the site receives, the quality of its soil (it must be well draining) and how much space it offers the tree. Mature tower poplar trees can reach 40 to 60 feet in height.

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.