DIY Network

How to Transplant a Japanese Maple

A healthy, beautiful and expensive Japanese Maple is moved from a poor location too close to a house to a sunny spot protected from the wind.

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japanese maple transplanted in side yard
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Scout a Better Location

This Japanese Maple was planted in the wrong place — right next to the front door, so it blocks some of the architectural features of the house. Japanese Maples are typically hardy and not difficult to grow. Most can be grown in partial shade or full sun (zones 5-9). The soil must be well draining. It's also best to avoid spots that are exposed to heavy winds.

japanese maple was planted in the wrong spot

Step 2: Dig in the Fall

Japanese Maples are best transplanted when they're dormant, which means fall. When digging up the tree, be careful of the roots. A rule of thumb is if the trunk is 2" in diameter, dig at least 9" from the truck all around.

japanese maple was dug up and transplanted

Step 3: Wrap in Burlap

Wrap the root ball in burlap to hold it intact and to prevent a mess when moving the tree from one spot to another. Once the root ball is wrapped, place the tree on a hand truck so it can easily be moved to the new location.

wrap root ball of tree in burlap to hold intact

Step 4: Dig a Hole

The hole should be 9" in diameter for ever inch of trunk, so if the tree has a 2" diameter the hole should be 18" in diameter. To will allow for settling and for a layer of mulch, the new hole should be deep enough that the tree can be planted with the root ball slightly higher than it was in the old location.

Step 5: Remove the Burlap

Because modern burlap frequently is synthetic and won't decay, but would strangle roots, it is imperative that all burlap and twine be removed before the root ball is placed in the hole and covered over.

Step 6: Water and Mulch

Always water newly transplanted roots thoroughly. Apply mulch, keeping it about 2" from the trunk, immediately after planting. Keep the soil moist until the ground freezes or until fall rains begin in earnest.

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