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How to Transplant Evergreens

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

Evergreen trees offer year round color and texture to a landscape design. An evergreen tree will grow approximately 8 inches on a yearly basis after acclimating to a new location. Growth in the first year may be less as the tree regains its root structure. A tree that is transplanted from to a new location on the same property will have minimal problems with soil conditions. Verify growing zones and soil requirements prior to purchasing an evergreen to transplant.

Dig a trench that is 1 to 3 feet in depth around the existing tree, based on the root structure present. The taller the tree, the more deep the trench should be. The width of the trench varies based on the height of tree. The trench should be approximately 1 foot in diameter for every 2 feet of tree height. For example, a 10-foot tall tree should have a trench with a diameter of approximately 5 feet wide.

Use a saw to cut through any roots beneath the root ball.

Use several planks as a lever to lift the tree and roots out of the hole. Move the tree and root ball with a wheelbarrow. This prevents soil loss and root damage.

Dig a hole that is 4 inches deeper than the root ball height and width. Place the root ball into the hole and fill it with the soil that was removed from the hole. Gently pack the soil in around the roots.

Keep fertilizer away from evergreen trees and never place it directly into the hole. Evergreen trees will thrive in a full sun location with adequate water supply.

Water the newly transplanted tree immediately. Continue watering regularly for the first two seasons as this prevents dehydration and promotes root growth. Watering is required when the soil depth has dried below 6 inches. Drip irrigation works well for watering an evergreen tree.

Mulch around evergreen trees to mimic conditions found in forests and woodland areas. Mulching retains moisture and prevents soil erosion around the tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Saw
  • 2 to 4 planks
  • Wheelbarrow


  • When buying a tree to transplant, look at the roots to verify they are healthy.
  • Fertilize a transplanted tree that has lost the green color lightly with a 12-12-12 granular fertilizer. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. on the ground, allowing water to slowly fertilize the tree.
  • Spring is the best time to transplant an evergreen in harsh winter climates. Plant the tree after frost has left the ground and the outside temperature is still cool. This allows the tree to develop a strong new root growth prior to winter. Evergreen trees that have gone dormant can be planted in the fall season in all climates.

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.