Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Transplant Pecan Trees

Pecan trees, a native tree in North America, produce tasty and nutritious nuts. A fully-grown pecan tree reaches heights up to 100 feet with spreads ranging from 40 to 75 feet. Often grown for the nuts, the pecan tree also provides shade and hard wood. Pecan trees live for more than 300 years and begin producing nuts within 6 to 10 years after transplanting. Plant at least two different varieties of trees at a time to ensure pollination. Select one from Type I and the other from Type II. Choose pecan trees best adapted to your specific area for transplanting.

Select a date during the dormant season to transplant the pecan tree. This varies depending on your location in the country from late fall to early spring, with February being the best time for transplanting pecan trees for most areas.

Find a location that provides full sun and plenty of room for the pecan tree to mature. Pecan trees require at least 35 feet and up to 80 feet of spacing between trees. Stay clear of any buildings, overhead wires, underground pipes or other obstacles within this range.

Dig a hole big enough for the root system to spread out naturally and for the pecan tree to be planted at the same depth it was in the nursery. The graft of the tree (found above the root system) needs to be 2 inches higher than the ground. This typically requires a hole 2- to 3-feet wide and deep.

Use a rake to loosen the soil on the sides of the hole and the bottom to allow the roots to spread easier. Fill the hole full of water and allow it to drain.

Carefully remove the tree from the container. Inspect and cut off any damaged or broken roots.

Place the pecan tree in the center of the hole, spreading the roots out. Add more soil to the bottom of the hole if it is too deep for the pecan tree. Plant the pecan tree a few inches deeper to allow room for the soil to settle in place around it. This ensures the proper height of the tree in the ground a few days after planting it.

Fill the hole ¾ full with the same soil removed from it. Do not add any type of fertilizer, manure or other organic matter to the soil.

Press down on the soil with your shovel to remove any air pockets from it, but do not compact it. Fill the hole with water to allow the soil to settle around the tree.

Fill the remainder of the hole with dirt. Use the remaining dirt to create a water basin around the bottom of the pecan tree.

Fill the basin with 10 gallons of water after transplanting the tree. Add more dirt around the tree, if needed to bring it level with the ground after watering.

Continue to fill the basin monthly when rainfall fails to supply enough water to penetrate the soil to the depth of the roots. Water the pecan tree weekly, after new leaves emerge.

Prune ½ to 1/3 of the top of the tree after transplanting. Keep an area 3-feet wide around the trunk of the tree free of weeds.


Keep the pecan tree moist at all times before transplanting it. Thoroughly water the tree when it is obtained and plant it as soon as possible. Pecan trees purchased as bare-root stock should be placed in soil and watered to protect the roots from drying out. Get rid of any packing material on the bare roots, and soak the roots for an hour before transplanting.

Garden Guides