Can You Transplant Conifers?

Regularly we get from our readers the question: can I transplant conifers? Perhaps at some point the moment will come when you want to lay out your garden differently and give your conifers, which grow as individual plants in your garden, another location in your garden. Or maybe you’ll move and your conifer hedge will move with you. Whatever the reason, sometimes there is no other way and the trees must necessarily be replanted. If you then follow our tips, then everything will also go well and your evergreen conifers will be in top condition even after replanting!

When can conifers be transplanted?

Many people think that conifers are difficult to transplant. People then immediately think that these hedge plants will surely dry out quickly, and that transplanting them will worsen the condition of these little trees. However, if you proceed properly, then you can avoid your conifers from drying out or being damaged in other ways. First, it is recommended to transplant the conifers at the right time. The best time to do this is when the trees are almost retired. This applies not only to individual plants, but also to an entire conifer hedge. Of course, this also applies to all other varieties of conifers: from the Taxus to the Thuja and from the primeval sequoia to Leylandii conifers. Therefore, August and September are particularly suitable months for planting or transplanting conifers. A little earlier or later is also possible, but during frost, however, you should not transplant your conifers.

Can You Transplant Conifers?

Transplanting conifers: here’s how you should proceed

Choose a new location for the conifers and then first start digging new planting holes for the conifers in the right place. Once the conifers are dug out of the ground, then they should also be planted back into the ground as soon as possible. The shorter the conifers have to wait to be dug back in, the better for their condition. Dig new planting holes that are large enough. It is recommended that the respective planting holes be at least twice the size of the conifers’ root balls and half as deep. Mix the soil of the planting holes with a decent amount of fresh planting soil. This way, your conifers will also be able to get off to a good start right after transplanting: after all, the hedge plants can really use extra nutrients and minerals after transplanting! But what does a conifer cost?

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After that, you can start digging the conifers out of the ground with a spade. However, carefully dig the little trees out of the ground and poke the spade all around the trunk, but you should maintain a sufficient distance from the trunk, otherwise there is a risk of damaging the roots of the conifers. The best you can do is to use twice the diameter of the tree as a guide. Always use a sharp spade to do this gardening job. Poke the spade vertically into the ground when prying the plant out of the ground. Also dig deep enough so you can get the entire root ball out. Conifers in containers are also a pretty option for your garden.

Yes, you can transplant conifers, but it’s essential to do it correctly to ensure the success of the transplant and the continued health of the conifer. Conifers, including evergreen trees like pine, spruce, and fir, have specific requirements and considerations when it comes to transplanting. Here’s a guide on how to transplant conifers successfully:

When to Transplant Conifers:

The best time to transplant conifers is during their dormant period, which is typically in late fall or early spring. Transplanting during this time minimizes stress on the tree and provides the best chance for successful establishment. Avoid transplanting during the hot summer months.

Steps for Transplanting Conifers:

  1. Choose the Right Location:
    • Select a new planting site with suitable soil, proper drainage, and the right amount of sunlight for the specific conifer species you’re transplanting. Make sure the new location meets the tree’s mature size requirements.
  2. Prepare the New Hole:
    • Dig a hole in the new location that is roughly twice as wide as the root ball and at a depth slightly shallower than the root ball. This provides room for the conifer’s roots to spread out.
  3. Prepare the Conifer:
    • Water the conifer thoroughly a day or two before the transplant. This helps to ensure that the tree is well-hydrated and less stressed during the process.
  4. Dig Up the Conifer:
    • Use a sharp shovel to dig a wide circle around the conifer, cutting through the roots at the drip line (the area beneath the outer branches). Be as gentle as possible to minimize root damage.
  5. Lift and Move the Conifer:
    • Carefully lift the conifer from the ground, keeping as much of the root ball intact as possible. Use burlap or a similar material to wrap the root ball to keep the soil and roots together during transport.
  6. Plant in the New Hole:
    • Place the conifer in the new hole, making sure it’s at the same depth as it was in its original location. Fill in the hole with soil, tamping it down gently as you go to eliminate air pockets.
  7. Water Thoroughly:
    • After planting, water the conifer thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture for the roots. Water regularly in the first year to ensure the tree’s establishment.
  8. Mulch and Protect:
    • Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the conifer to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Protect the tree from animals and potential damage by using fencing or tree guards.
  9. Monitor and Maintain:
    • Regularly check the conifer for signs of stress, disease, or pests. Continue to provide appropriate care, including watering, as needed.
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Tips for Successful Transplanting:

  • If the conifer is particularly large or heavy, consider enlisting the help of others to lift and transport it safely.
  • Root pruning a year before transplanting can help improve the conifer’s chances of success by encouraging the development of new, more compact roots.
  • For larger conifers, consider hiring a professional tree service to handle the transplanting process.
  • Water the conifer in its new location as needed, ensuring the soil stays consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Keep in mind that some conifer species transplant more successfully than others. While many conifers can be transplanted, some may be more sensitive or challenging to move.

Transplanting conifers can be a successful process when done with care and the right timing. By following these steps and providing ongoing care, you can help your transplanted conifer thrive in its new location and continue to enhance your landscape for years to come.

Can You Transplant Conifers?

Other tips for transplanting conifers

Do you want to transplant an entire conifer hedge? Then make sure you don’t plant the conifers too close together in the ground when you transplant them. This is because the conifers need enough time to recover after transplanting. To do this, you also need enough space for their roots to continue developing. Another tip is that you should wait a little while after you have transplanted your conifers before pruning them. It is also better to give conifers a good basic fertilizer in the spring. You should also prune conifers again in the spring if you plan to replant them in the fall.

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Then we have one last tip for you: take good care of your conifers! Although transplanting conifers is fine, it is of course rather not so good for the plants. Therefore, you should take good care of your conifers. When pruning, make sure that your conifers are slightly narrower in the upper half than in the lower half. This way, after a period with a lot of rain, a conifer hedge can also dry faster everywhere, including the bottom and the inside of the hedge. Also, fertilizing your conifer hedge once a year can improve the condition of your conifer hedge, especially if that hedge has been transplanted before. Conifers are hedge plants that have a wonderful function in your garden: they create a pretty, natural atmosphere en they form an evergreen hedge that is also opaque. With good care, you can enjoy this particularly robust hedge plant for a lifetime: in this way, you can continue to enjoy these wonderful little trees in your garden for many years to come!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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