How to Transplant Evergreens

Evergreens are a beautiful addition to any landscaping design. They’re hardy and enduring plants–but they sometimes outgrow their location. And this is usually the time of year that we discover just how overgrown an evergreen has grown. We’ve watched them carefully through winter without ever once thinking, “Hey, will I have to transplant that tree in Spring?”

It turns out that you’ll often be transplanting those trees in the spring. The task of transplanting an evergreen may appear daunting, but don’t let it intimidate you.  We have some tips on how to make moving them to a new home a successful endeavor…

Tools for Transplanting Evergreens

To make this process as smooth as possible, be sure to have the following items at your disposal: spade, shovel, something strong to use to tie up larger branches, a large piece of cloth, such as a bed sheet, tarp or burlap, and a watering hose. We also recommend you prepare the new home for your plant before removing it from its current location and clearing any debris between the two locations.

Transplanting Smaller Plants

The younger or smaller the plant, the easier it is to move. Dig around the base of the plant and use a shovel to scoop the roots as you gently lift it out of the ground. Place the plant into the new hole, fill the hole with rich soil and pat it down firmly. Be sure to water the plant immediately after transplanting.

Transplanting Larger Plants

Additional care should be taken with larger evergreens. If the branches are very wide, use a rope to tie the lower branches up and away from the ground. This allows you to access the base with ease.

Gently use a spade to scrape off enough soil at the base in order to expose the roots. Still utilizing the spade, go out from the base about two feet and stab it into the ground. You are looking for the boundary of the root structure. If you don’t find the roots there, move a few inches toward the plant and test the ground again. Repeat this process until you locate the outermost roots. Don’t expect to get all the roots, but your goal is to get at least 75% of them.

Once the outer roots are located, go around the plant marking the ground to create a circle. Dig a trench around the marked the circle and begin to scoop and lift the roots. After they are freed, place a large piece of cloth underneath the root ball. Utilize three additional strong backs to lift each corner of the cloth, which makes it easier to move the plant to the new site. Lower it into the new hole, remove the cloth and pack the hole with rich soil. Add water to thoroughly soak all of the roots.

If you feel that the plant is too loose in its new home, stake the tree to the ground around it. Keep in mind that the best time of the year to transplant evergreens is September or October, so staking it will also prevent any sudden winds from knocking it over. For the first month after transplanting, water the plant once a week–and as necessary after that. And then you’re all set….until it’s time to do some more transplanting next year. Evergreens keep growing in winter, you know.

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