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How to Transplant a Fruit Tree

Fruit trees provide the home gardener tasty homegrown fruit. Sometimes your fruit tree is in the wrong location. A home remodeling may force relocation of your plants. Moving to a new address may prompt you to take your fruit trees with you. Trees occasionally outgrow their current locations if they were hastily planted when they were younger. Limit your transplanting to trees with a trunk diameter of 1 inch or less. This usually indicates trees that are 3 to 4 years old. Larger fruit trees than this will require heavy duty equipment.

Prune the roots of the fruit tree you need to transplant the spring before the autumn you move it. Water the soil around the fruit tree thoroughly the day before. Mark a circle in sand around the tree that is 10 to 12 inches for every inch of trunk diameter. If your tree trunk measures 1 1/2 inches then go out 15 to 18 inches from the trunk.

Dig a trench with a shovel following the circle that you marked. Cut through the roots to a depth of 24 inches. Large roots need to be cut through with a pair of pruning loppers. Replace the dirt in the trench and water thoroughly. This stimulates the growth of small roots that will help the fruit tree survive the move.

Water the day before the move in autumn to soften the ground. This helps keep most of the roots intact. Tie up the lower branches with twine to help protect them and to keep them out of the way.

Dig a hole in the new location that is two to three times as wide but only 24 inches deep. Moisten the hole in order to reduce transplant shock.

Dig a trench around the fruit tree that is 4 to 6 inches farther away then when you pruned the roots. This will ensure that you transplant the new roots. Dig under the rootball to the depth of 24 inches.

Place a tarp in the trench beside the fruit tree. Tilt the fruit tree on its side and work the tarp under the rootball. Lift the tree out of the hole with the tarp. Never lift a tree by its trunk since this could cause damage to the fruit tree.

Move the fruit tree to its new hole and remove the tarp. Backfill the hole around the tree with soil. Keep the tree at the same depth as it was in the original hole. Firm the soil by walking on it and water thoroughly. Mulch around the fruit tree with 2 to 3 inches of wood chips. Water the newly transplanted fruit tree every 12 to 14 days for the next year.


Transplant fruit trees after they drop their leaves in autumn but before new growth appears in the spring.


It may take several years for fruit trees to fully recover from transplanting. The trees may not bloom or produce new growth until they are adjusted to their new home.

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