Preparing to Move a Large Spaded Tree

So you are ready to transplant your first tree and move it to a new location! What can you expect in relocating the tree? How do you prepare to move a tree? Here are some of our best tips to so you can know how to move a tree.

The Day Before:

Just like preparing for a blood donation, you should make sure your tree is well hydrated before the move. This will make sure it is in tip top shape, as well as lubricate the soil to aid in the digging of the hole. Using a wand or sprayer, you’ll want to put around 50-100 gallons of water down on and around the tree. Your goal is to hydrate the soil down to about 5 feet (more for larger trees), without flooding the surrounding ground which may get the spading truck stuck.

You’ll also want to hydrate hte receiving desitination. Again, this is to make the digging process easier as well as keep the surrounding soil moist for the trees roots in the new location.

Ideally, you’ll want to run your hose with a sprinkler head around the tree for at least 20 minutes the day before.

Be sure that the site around the tree is flat and level, any surrounding fences, retaining walls, or other hazards are moved to allow for a minimum 6-8 feet radius around the tree to be clear for the spade to ‘bear hug/ around the tree for the dig.

The Day Of:

When moving a tree, typically we will first dig the recieving hole where the tree will end up. This ‘plug’ of dirt can be put into a pod for later use (typically this extra equipment may add to cost), or in some cases will just be dropped next to the tree, to be pushed in with a loader later by the customer or your onsite excavators. Keep in mind, this plug of dirt can be 4-12,000 pounds or more and it is recommended you use the right equipment to put it back in the hole if necessary.

Be available and onsite to facilitate our operators for access and any clarifications that may be necessary. Further, they can provide you tips on tree care and aftercare.

Once the tree is moved to it’s new location, we’ll dump about 100 gallons of water in the hole as we set it in the ground to make sure it stays well hydraded, and is compacted firmly in the ground.

We recommend that trees be staked into the ground at aleastfour points for the first year to prevent it from blowing over in extreme winds. After about a year, the trees stabalizing roots will grow into the native soil and begin to keep the tree standing.

Tree Spade - Colorado Tree Spade

Post Move Care:

While many trees naturally grow without irrigation or drip lines, after they are moved, we recommend regular watering to help ensure the tree stays hydrated and to facilitate the rapid growth of new roots. Additional tree spraying or fertalizing can be beneficial but is not required for trees to survive the move.

See more Post Move Care for your tree See more Post Move Care for your tree here


Questions? Call us today!

Transplanting, moving, removal and reloaction – what we do best! If you have a question about your project, as us today!

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Comments (4)

  • Nona EichelbergerMay 15, 2019 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Question – when we moved to our property forty years ago, we planted seedlings from the Colorado Extension. Now the trees are planted much too close to each other. Ten years ago we moved six trees. However, the trees have grown and we are concerned that by moving additional trees, we may destroy their root system. Please advise of the distance between trees that would make it possible to transplant five to eight trees. Thank you so much for your time.

    • Susan PfeiferJune 2, 2019 at 10:04 pm Reply

      Nona – Great Question!

      In general, for every 1 inch in diameter of trunk (8 inches above the ground, straight across), you want to take 10 inches of dirt / rootball for the tree to thrive. That means, if the trunk is 9 inches in diameter, you want to take a 90 inch diameter rootball, or 45 inches all the way around the tree.

      If you are relocating the trees, keep in mind, a tree spade is wider than the hole it cuts as it ‘bear hugs’ the tree with wrapping arms, so an extra 24″ around the hole is typically recommended for access.

      Please feel free to call us at 303.841.9393 or email us pictures at to provide more information!

  • Skylar WilliamsAugust 20, 2019 at 8:09 pm Reply

    50 to 100 gallons seems like a lot of water to give a tree before moving it. I will be moving houses across town and I want to take my apple trees with me. I wonder if I will need that much water because my apple trees are pretty small.

    • Susan PfeiferAugust 21, 2019 at 2:39 pm Reply

      Hi Skylar –
      The key with the amount you water the trees prior is in making sure the rootball is well saturated. The amount depends on the size of the rootball, as well as the soil type. Think of scooping up sand at the beach – when it’s dry, it flows right out of your fingers. When it’s wet, it sticks together better – facilitating a safer transplant, and helping keep the tree hydrated as it goes down the road. The key is soaking the ground slowly – too much water too fast will make mud on the surface only, which can be a hazard in backing the truck up to the tree.
      Thanks for your comment! Give us a call anytime!

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