Whether it's a tree that you've previously planted and now want to move to the perfect location or a tree that you want to dig from a ditch, the process is the same. The best time to transplant is either in the early spring prior to bud break or in the fall after leaf drop. When transplanting a tree or shrub, dig a trench around the plant about 30 cm wider than the spread of the limbs or branches. Be sure to guide the shovel blade straight down to minimize the disturbance to the roots. Next, lift the loosened mass of roots still embedded in the soil. Place the root ball on a plastic sheet or in a plastic bag and tie it securely, as this will help to keep the moisture in the root ball during transport. Please fill in the remaining hole to prevent possible incidents to humans, wildlife, livestock, and maintenance equipment. It's advised to transport your plant in the trunk of a car or in a covered truck to prevent wind damage. To plant the transplant in the ground dig a hole at least twice the width of the root ball and the depth of the root ball height. Place the transplant into the hole ensuring the root ball in level with the ground. Backfill the planting hole two-thirds with the parent soil. Lightly pack the soil and water. Backfill the remaining hole with soil and water thoroughly. Make sure you water trees or shrubs when dry. Do not fertilize your newly planted tree or shrub during its first year.


 –  Adequate watering may be the single most important factor that will influence the survival of planted and transplanted trees. A tree suffering from drought is more vulnerable to transplant shock, pests and diseases.

 –  Water the tree regularly for the first two years after planting. Some trees may need watering for three to four years to become established.

 –  Water trees at least once a week. Increase frequency during dry periods and decrease during wet periods.

 –  Conifers may require more water than deciduous trees. Irrigation is not adequate if the trees have wilted foliage or show slow, stunted growth.

 –  Ideally, trees should be watered in the early morning.

 –  Watering should taper off a few weeks before the first frost.


–  Trees do not necessarily need fertilizer. Fertilizers are not a cure for an unhealthy tree but will enhance growth that is already occurring. Fertilizers should be handled with care, as over-fertilizing can do more harm than good.

–  Never fertilize at the time of planting.

–  First fertilizer application should be at the beginning of the second growing season.

–  Be sure to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for application and rate.

–  Never fertilize trees in August or later – it is too late in the growing season.


Pruning should be a common tree maintenance procedure. Pruning is often a common practice to remove dead branches, improve tree structure, and enhance tree growth, in addition to safety and aesthetics. Pruning should be done after
mid-October and before the end of April. Pruning during this dormant period is less stressful on the tree and the absence of leaves makes the tree structure more visible. Insects and disease are minimal at this time as well.

There are some exceptions to pruning during the dormant period, including:

  Dead branches – prune any time

  Elm trees – NO pruning between April 1st to August 1st

  Maple and Birch – prune August to September

  Pines must be sheared while candling (new growth) in July

  Lilacs – prune after flowering

Staking and Guying

–  Staking and guying provides support for newly planted trees, however it is not always necessary. In fact, staking and guying can have detrimental effects on the development of a tree.

–  Staking and guying is only necessary when a newly planted tree cannot stand upright without additional support. Bare root trees, trees grown in small containers with loose potting mix and large conifers may require support while they establish their root systems, especially in windy areas.

Winter Protection

Trees require adequate water before winter.

Decrease frequency of watering in fall to correspond to lower temperatures.

Water before ground freezes.

Burlap can be used to protect evergreens from winter drying. The fabric should be attached to wooden stakes and placed so the burlap does not make contact with the foliage.

To protect fruit trees and young hardwoods from rabbits and other rodents, place protective chicken wire around the stem, but not touching the tree.