Transplanting Trees and Shrubs – Part II

(Courtesy: Dr. Wendy Longo at

(Courtesy: Dr. Wendy Longo at

In Part I of Transplanting Trees and Shrubs we discussed the problem of “transplant shock” on trees and shrubs that are re-planted in a garden or lawn.

In Part II we will provide instructions on how to properly plant trees or shrubs to prevent “transplant shock” from ever taking place.

First you need to consider the site where the tree or shrub will be planted. As explained in Part I, the proper analysis of the site in which the tree will be planted is most important in assuring that the plant does not experience transplant shock.

Things you need to consider are the soil and drainage conditions of the site, the availability of water and sunlight, how much exposure to drying winds will the tree be subject to, and more. All of this is to assure that you properly match the tree to the site to increase survivability and longevity of the plant.

Soil Texture and Drainage

First ascertain what type of soil you are dealing with. Sandy soils offer very good drainage because it features large pore spaces and poor water-holding capability. Clay, on the other hand, features smaller pore space and, therefore, offers poor drainage. Moreover, it can smother a tree’s roots.

Here is a tip on how to test the drainage capability of your soil. Dig a hole 18-inches deep, fill it with water and let the water stand overnight. If the water is not drained when you check in the morning, then there is a drainage issue.

If you discover that the drainage is not good, then select a specie of tree or shrub that can better tolerate the drainage condition. Another alternative is to improve the soil. This can be achieved by compacting it with an underlying layer of well-drained soil.

You should check the pH of the soil, too. This exam determines the presence of acid or alkaline. A pH below 7 signifies acid soil; a pH greater than 7 show the soil is alkaline. You can find a tree species that will flourish in the pH rating of your soil. Experts say that most trees thrive in a pH level of between 5.5 and 6.5. You can raise pH using calcium carbonate or lime. Select a tree specie that flourishes in a high pH when planting in an area with buried concrete, near foundations, or sidewalks.

If your soil conditions show that water stands or is very close to the surface or there are heavy amounts of clay soil, then select a plant that is more tolerant of a lot of water. If water is somewhat limited, then select a specie of tree or shrub that is tolerate of this condition.

Most trees and shrubs require full sunlight. However, there are some that are tolerant to more shade. Make sure that you select a specie that matches the conditions that exist on your lawn or garden.


The first thing you have to do is dig the hole for the tree or shrub. Experts say that the hole should be at least 1-foot to 2-feet wider than the size of the root system. A larger hole will help to assure better root growth, especially in poor soil. Rough up the sides of the hole with a shovel and dig the hole as wide or wider at the bottom than at the top.

It is suggested that the depth of the hole that will accommodate the tree or shrub should be so that one-third the height of the soil ball is above ground level after planting.

Check out the tree and prune away any diseased or damaged roots or branches if necessary. Be sure also to remove any burlap, wire or rope from the trunk of the tree.

Drop the tree into the hole and then backfill the hole with enough soil to hold the plant slightly higher than the depth it was growing in the nursery. Pack the soil and center the tree so that the largest branches are pointing southwest. Spread the roots out evenly. Cover the roots with soil, prevent clotting and remove any rocks. Lift and lower the plant while you are adding soil to prevent air pockets. When the hole is three-quarters full, compact the soil and fill the hole with water. Finish filling the hole with soil, then water.

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.