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How to Transplant the Japanese Maple Tree

By Sarah Morse ; Updated September 21, 2017
Japanese maples include a group of maple trees.
Japanese maple image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

Japanese maples, also called Acer palmatum, are some of the smallest maples, growing only 8 to 20 feet tall. They have shallow, fine root systems, making them easy to transplant. If your Japanese maple is suffering for some reason, it may be because of location. Do not be afraid to move it as it can survive the transplant with the right amount of attention and care.

Transplant the tree in the early spring before the tree buds. Find a fitting area in which to plant your Japanese maple. Look for well-drained soil and partial sun. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, plant near a wall or building for extra protection. An alternative would be winterizing the tree when frost arrives.

Measure the diameter of the tree trunk to determine how large the root ball should be while moving. The root ball includes roots and soil the plant needs to survive in its new location. For every inch of the diameter, add a foot in diameter to the size of the root ball.

Dig a hole with a spade in the transplant site that is slightly bigger than the root ball. Mix some organic compost into the soil that you just dug out of the hole.

Dig your tree out of its original site, using the measurements above to figure out the diameter of the root ball. Wrap the root ball in burlap, securing the edges around the trunk with rope. Transport the tree as quickly as possible to the transplant site.

Unwrap the burlap from around the root ball and place the tree upright in its hole. Fill the soil and compost mix around the root ball and tamp down to provide support for the tree.

Water the Japanese maple regularly, keeping it moist throughout the growing season. Because the tree has shallow roots, water shallowly to avoid drowning the tree. During extended dry periods you may water more deeply.


Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Spade
  • Organic compost
  • Burlap
  • Rope
  • Water

About the Author


Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.