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How to Transplant a Desert Willow

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

The desert willow is a small, deciduous tree that has long, narrow leaves similar to the willow tree. The tree produces clusters of light pink flowers on the branch tips in late spring or fall based on the rainfall amounts in the area. Established desert willow trees dug with a root ball can be transplanted any time of the year but respond well when it is completed in the fall dormant season.

Choose a planting location that offers a well draining soil and full sunlight conditions. The desert willow does not tolerate standing or overly wet soil or shaded light from buildings or trees.

Dig around the tree at a distance that is slightly larger than the root ball. A mature tree will have a root ball that is at least 3 feet in diameter. Cut through roots that extend past the root ball and use a pry bar to gently lift the root ball out of the hole.

Prepare the new planting location by breaking the soil with a shovel. Dig a hole that is two to three times the circumference of the root ball and the same depth.

Soak the hole with water and allow it to absorb into the surrounding soil.

Place the root ball into the hole so the top of the ball is at ground level. Fill the hole halfway with soil. Fill the hole with water and wait for it to absorb into the root ball and soil. Fill the remaining hole with soil and gently pack into place so there are no air pockets.

Water the transplanted tree regularly during the first growing season to stimulate root growth. Use a drip irrigation system to slowly introduce water into the soil and prevent pooling. Water the tree every 10 to 14 days when rainfall levels are adequate for the area.

Place mulch around the base of the tree leaving a 4 to 6 inch gap between the tree trunk and start of the mulch. Mulch will assist with water retention and prevent damage to the tree trunk during mowing.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Tree pruner
  • Pry bar
  • Water
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill
  • Mulch


  • Create your own drip irrigator by drilling a small hole into the bottom edge of a 5-gallon bucket. Place the bucket under the tree and fill it with water. The water will slowly drip out and absorb into the ground.

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.