Yes, you can move a fruit tree that you planted in the wrong spot last year. (I’ve done it.) Yes, you can move a fruit tree that you planted in your current yard to the yard at your new house. (I’ve done it.)

I feel like I can give you tips on doing this successfully because I’ve done it and I’ve failed at it numerous times too – so I know what the mistakes are as well.

The main mistakes are: doing it outside of the winter season, and damaging too many roots. Briefly, then, the keys are:

Transplant fruit trees in the winter

Dig up and keep intact as many roots as possible

Now let me show you a few real-life examples of fruit trees I’ve transplanted, noting any adjustments I made when conditions weren’t ideal, and showing you the results.

Bearss lime

In the summer of 2013, we moved houses and I wanted to take our Bearss lime tree with us so I dug it up and fit the rootball into a 15-gallon container for the move.

Bearss lime tree in 2013 before digging it up.

But this was in the summer, and we were moving to Ramona, where summers are hot. I kept the lime tree in the container in partial shade for the whole summer and only planted it in the ground in full sun after the days were shorter and the temperatures milder.

The tree did not look great for a year or so, but it eventually fully recovered and showers us with more limes than we can eat now, a decade later. See the photos above and below:

Bearss lime tree now, in Ramona yard.

The point is that if you must move a tree in the summer (or any season other than winter), keep it shaded after transplanting until winter.


On the other hand, I’ve never successfully transplanted an avocado tree in summer that has been growing in the ground for more than a year. In fact, during that same move back in 2013, when we came out to Ramona, I moved a Pinkerton avocado but it died.

Move avocados in the winter, and even when moving them in winter beware that their roots are brittle compared to the roots of other types of fruit trees. You need to be more gentle with avocados.

You also want to extract as many roots as possible. Do this by first putting your shovel into the ground farther out than you think the roots might be; it can be surprising how far from the trunk roots reach.

Last winter, I moved this little avocado tree:

Avocado tree before transplanting, on March 19, 2023.
Avocado tree immediately after transplanting, on March 19, 2023.

The tree hadn’t been growing well, and I discovered that it was because the soil was too shallow. There was bedrock only 1.5 feet below. So I moved it to a nearby spot with deeper dirt.

But I did the moving later than optimal, on March 19 at the very end of winter, and so I shaded it through the spring and summer. As it wasn’t very healthy, it lost some of its foliage but is now in good condition, about a year after the transplant.

Here is a Fuerte avocado tree that I transplanted earlier in winter and never needed to shade. The transplanting was done in 2014 so the tree is ten years old now.

Fuerte avocado tree in winter 2023-2024.

Blenheim apricot

The easiest trees to move are the deciduous ones, as long as you move in winter. At this time, they have no leaves and so the roots need almost no water, and you don’t even have to transport the soil with the roots. You can “bare root” these trees by spraying the dirt off the roots with a hose as you dig them up.

On a cloudy day nine winters ago, I moved a Blenheim apricot tree from one side of my yard to the other. The tree had been growing vigorously in the first spot for a full year and was taller than me, but it still took the move comfortably. Here it was about three years after the transplant:

Blenheim apricot tree in June 2017.

The key to moving this apricot was simply doing it in the middle of winter, when the weather was cool and the tree had no leaves to support.

How big a tree can you transplant?

Can you move a big fruit tree? Not by yourself, not without machinery. But professionals move massive trees with massive equipment every day. So almost any tree can be moved, but if you can’t do it yourself it becomes a complicated and costly operation.

However, know that you can move fruit trees of any type if they’ve only been in the ground a year or two, and you can do this by yourself. Don’t be scared about planting in the wrong spot because trees can be moved. And don’t be scared about planting now even though you might move next year. You can probably still take the trees with you.

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