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Moving & Replanting Fruit Trees

12-Jul-2013 | Contributed by: Guest Author

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Replanting a tree

It is important to replant as soon as possible after uprooting the tree to avoid too much air exposure to the roots.

If you find yourself needing to replant a fruit tree, it’s important to make sure you follow the correct procedure to ensure the tree survives the move.

Before you make the move, ensure that it is absolutely necessary. The younger the tree, the easier it is to replant, but regardless it is important to realise that you tree will not grow or fruit for at least a year after replanting. It takes trees a while to settle into new locations.

When to replant:

The best time to replant is in early winter, while the tree is dormant, and there is moisture on the ground.

Root Pruning:

Well before you uproot the tree, (ideally a year before, but 2-3 months is better than not at all) it is important to prune the roots of the tree. A tree’s roots extend out well past its branches (the drip line) to anchor it, and many of the feeder roots come off these anchoring roots. This means that your tree will be getting its nutrients well away from its root ball, which is what you will be digging up.

Root pruning requires severing the tree’s roots around the drip line. To do this, slice down into the soil with a sharp spade, making a circle around the branches/drip line. This can be stressful for the tree, so it is important to wait at least two months before replanting.

Before you uproot:

When it comes time to replant, make sure you pick the new tree location (consider sun and shelter) and dig the new hole before uprooting the tree. You should dig a hold that is two times as big as the tree’s root ball. Make sure the soil in this area is of good quality, and coat the bottom of the hole with a compost and soil mixture to help the tree’s roots take to their new location.


When digging up the tree, make sure you dig about a metre away from the tree’s base. You should dig a hole that allows you to remove away much of the tree’s root ball as you can.

Transporting the fruit tree:

Before transporting the tree to its new location, wrap the root ball in plastic. This will protect the roots from damage. You can transport the tree in a wheelbarrow or truck bed.


Replant as soon as possible to avoid too much root exposure to the air as the air will dry them out. Spread the roots out carefully when placing in the hole. Make sure that the hole is deep enough to avoid root exposure, but not so deep that the base of the tree is below the ground’s surface. Add a thick layer of mulch around the tree’s base, and water thoroughly. After watering you may notice the soil sink in. If this happens, add more soil to keep it level with the ground.

If the tree you are replanting is young, a one-metre supporting stake can help the tree establish itself.

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