Transplanting Questions

How much does tree transplanting cost?

Many factors go into determining the cost associated with tree transplanting; size of tree to transplant, distance to transplant, site access, digging conditions, pre-dig site work necessary, post-dig site work necessary, total number of trees being moved, travel time to and from the job site, to name a few. We are happy to provide a quote, just call us with project details. 

What time of year can a tree be transplanted?

The optimal time of year to transplant trees and shrubs is either in the spring or fall seasons, due to low moisture stress on plants during those times of year. However, trees can successfully be transplanting throughout the year, as long as mitigating factors are addressed. 

How much notice is needed to transplant a tree?

Ideally, try to involve Jordan’s Tree Moving & Maint. in the planning or design stages of your project. We are happy to advise and make recommendations based on your project plans. Early involvement in the plan/design stage may also avoid scheduling delays during busy times of the year. The absolute minimum notice, however is 3 (three) business days to insure pre-dig utility notifications have been made, and all underground utility locations have been marked on the site(s). 

Is trunk diameter the only factor that determines whether a tree can be transplanted?

We use trunk diameter to establish the corresponding tree spade that is most appropriate to transplant the tree, however, the canopy spread will also be a determining factor in assessing the transplantablity of a tree. An evergreen tree whose canopy is very flexible lends itself well to the maneuvering of tree limbs to envelope the tree within the spade implement. On the other hand, a low branching species, like an Apple tree, whose limbs are fairly rigid, may prevent the tree from being transplanted successfully. By asking a few questions of specific circumstances, we can usually ascertain whether a tree can be transplanted successfully. We would encourage you to call and discuss your project needs. 

Why is it recommended to “stake” a tree after transplanting?

The installation of T-Post and guy wire supports are generally recommended for newly planted or transplanted trees to help stabilize the tree until a sufficient anchoring root system is developed. The size of tree, size of corresponding root ball, exposure to wind load, and soil conditions are all factors in determining whether a tree needs an anchor support system, the placement of such a system, and the total number of supports needed. 

How long should I leave the guy wires attached to the tree and the “T-Posts” in the ground?

It is recommended to only leave a tree guyed for one to five years after installation/transplantation,depending on the size of the tree. Trees left guyed too long will start to develop a dependence on the structural support offered by the guy wires, and will not produce an anchoring root system. A concern also exists that left untended too long the wires around the trunk of the tree will begin to girdle, or grow into the tree trunk. 

How often should I water a recently transplanted tree?

Site soil conditions will dictate amount and frequency of watering. The goal is to keep the roots in the soil moist, but not too wet, as to let the roots also absorb oxygen. A good rule of thumb is to water the top of the root ball with a garden hose set at about half volume for approx. 60 minutes (or until runoff) after the initial installation. The water retention capacity of the soil should dictate future watering frequency. An indicator that the tree needs be be watered again is when the soil approx. 2-3 inches below grade is to dry to clump together in your hand. See our After Care Sheet below for more information. 

What guarantee do I have that a transplanted tree will survive?

While the health of the tree prior to transplanting will have a dramatic impact of the success of transplantation, after care and water management will play a key role in ensuring a successful transplant. Jordan’s Tree Moving & Maintenance has had excellent success in more than 20 years of tree transplanting.

Recommended Tree Care after Planting

Transplanting is a major operation from which most trees recover slowly. A major portion of the root system is sometimes lost in digging, and the tree must reestablish sufficient roots to sustain itself. The tree’s ability to obtain and transport water and minerals is greatly reduced. Varying degrees of water stress is the result, and the tree experiences transplant shock.

Proper watering can be the key to survival of newly planted trees

During spring, summer and fall: If rainfall is not sufficient (generally 1 inch/week) the tree should be watered every 15 days. In winter: If we experience a dry month, evergreens should be watered on a mild day. (Soil at 1-2 inches below ground level should be kept moist at all times.) A slow gentle soaking is preferable. However, excess water accumulation in the planting hole is a leading cause of transplant death. Watering must be appropriate for soil type and drainage.

Stakes should be used

Guy wires should be slack to force the tree’s roots to grow and eventually support it, but not slack enough to allow it to fall or lean. The staking system should be checked periodically to ensure it is not injuring the tree. Stakes should be removed after one or more growing seasons depending on the size of the tree and the soil conditions. If support systems are left in place too long, the tree’s ability to stand alone may be reduced and the chances of girdling injury are increased.

Wait to fertilize

Since the root system of a newly planted tree is limited, fertilization is often not recommended at the time of planting. Excessive fertilizer salts in the root zone can be damaging. If fertilizer is used at planting or in the first growing season, application of a controlled-release fertilizer is suggested. Fertilization in the fall when the roots are active can be beneficial.


The area around the tree should be mulched with three to four inches of organic mulch.  The mulch will help reduce competition from weeds and grasses, conserve soil moisture and moderate soil temperature extremes. The mulch should not be placed against the trunk of the tree as that can cause bark suffocation or crown rot. Black plastic should not be placed under the mulch since it restricts water movement and oxygen availability to the roots.

Pruning following planting should be limited

The tree will grow and establish most rapidly if pruning is minimized at planting. Broken or damaged limbs should be removed.

Do not use tree wrap

Many early references recommend wrapping the trunks of newly planted trees to protect against temperature extremes, sun-scald, boring insects and drying. More recent research indicates that temperature differentials at the bark are greater with tree wrap than without. Further, tree wrap tends to hold in moisture on the bark and can lead to fungal problems. Also, insects tend to burrow between the bark and the wrap, and can be worse with wrap than without it.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us!