How to Uproot a Tree without Killing It

There are several reasons why you may need to uproot a tree and transplant it elsewhere. It could be that the tree was planted too close to the house and therefore the roots are causing problems with the house foundation, or maybe the leaves are hanging over your roof in an unappealing way. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to get rid of the tree altogether. You can actually move a tree without killing it.

Just remember that transplanting a tree successfully requires some skill. Depending on the size of the tree, you can either do it yourself or hire professional landscapers for the job. It’s important to note that if you plan to transplant a large tree, enlist the help of a professional.

tree in backyard

But First, When Is the Best Time to Uproot a Tree?

A key factor to consider when transplanting a tree is timing. The best time to move a tree depends on its type. Nonetheless, the general rule is to transplant trees when they’re dormant, usually in early spring or fall. This is because when trees are active with fruits and leaves, they use their roots to transfer water from surrounding soil through their branches, and all the way to their canopies.

Therefore, if you uproot a tree during the summer when it’s awake, it results in what’s known as transplant shock. Transplant shock is a process in which trees are unable to root well due to moving it to a new environment. So, to avoid this, make sure you only transplant your trees when they’re dormant so that their roots remain vital.

Tree in Yard

Simple Steps for Uprooting a Tree

For homeowners interested in gardening, transplanting a tree without killing it is the perfect challenge. Just simply follow these 6 easy steps:

1. Water the tree well

Three days before you uproot a tree, make sure you water the soil surrounding the tree well to ensure the root ball is moist when you dig up the tree and transplant it. Experts recommend doing this step at least two days before you uproot the tree stump.

2. Secure the branches

Using a garden twine, tie the branches of the tree. Begin with the lowest branch and work your way up the tree, wrapping the twine around the branches as you go. This protects the branches when transporting the tree and also makes uprooting the tree easier.


3. Dig up the root ball

Using a shovel, dig up the root ball. Be careful not to damage any roots during this process. You will need to determine what size root ball to dig. A good way to do this is by measuring the diameter of the tree trunk at chest height. Then, multiply this by 8 to 12 inches for each inch of trunk diameter.

For example, if the trunk diameter is 2 inches, your calculation will be 2 x 8 = 16 inches and 2 x 12 = 24 inches. In this case, you need to dig up a root ball that has a radius of 16–24 inches.

4. Wrap the root ball with burlap

Wrapping the roots with burlap is an extra measure of precaution to protect them. To do this, tilt the tree a little to give you room to slide the burlap underneath the root ball. Then, tie the burlap tightly to keep the root ball intact.

5. Uproot the tree

To remove tree roots, pull the root ball out of the ground to uproot the tree. Then, move the tree to its new location and make sure you keep it hydrated.

Here you have them: the 5 simple steps to uprooting a tree stump safely and effectively. Now, replanting a tree is a whole other process that you need to be aware of. If you’re unsure of what to do after moving the tree to its new home, consult a professional arborist to guide you through the next stages.