Pine trees are towering giants, best known for their quiet presence in evergreen forests throughout the north. Although there are 35 different species of pine tree, they are all characterized by their pungent green needles and fragrant pine cones. As relatively hardy trees, pines can be transplanted to new sites, and even moved from the wild to a location in a homeowner's yard. To successfully transplant pines, follow a couple general steps.
Choose the planting site you're going to use for the pine trees, and prepare it before you transplant the pines. Preparing the site in advance will making the transition easier for the pines, and encourage better success. Choose a site that gets full sun exposure and is slightly elevated, for good drainage. Pine trees can grow upwards of 50 feet tall, so make sure there's plenty of space for this growth.
Dig holes for the pine trees you'll be transplanting. The holes should be roughly twice as wide as the pine trees' existing root balls, and deep enough that the roots will fit comfortably in the hole, without any bending or breaking. It's smart to dig a larger hole than you think you'll need; too large a hole can be easily filled in with dirt, whereas a hole that's too small will crowd the pine tree, making it difficult for it to grow.
Prepare the soil for the pine trees. Mix the garden dirt you dug up with compost, to end with a 50/50 mixture. Although pines don't generally require a lot of nutrition in their soil, the added compost will nourish the pines as they become established and recover from the stress of transplanting.
Dig the wild pine up. If you're transplanting multiple trees, do so one at a time, starting with this step. Trying to transplant them all at once will endanger the trees. Starting two feet away from the trunk of the pine tree, dig down into the soil to find the roots. Work outward and downward to find the edges of the roots, if you can. Once you've found the outer reaches, dig a circle around the tree, so that you have a trench that reaches underneath the roots at their ends.
Push the shovel into the soil of the trench, at an angle so that it slides under the roots of the wild pine tree. Lever the shovel up to lift the root ball out of the soil. Repeat this process at intervals around the tree, until the root ball is loose and can be lifted out. Take as much soil as possible with the pine tree during the transplant.
If you're traveling with the pine tree, ease its transition by wrapping the root or soil ball in a moist (not soaked) towel. This will keep the roots moisturized and protected during any transportation. If you're transplanting over a short distance, this isn't necessary.
Plant the pine tree in its new location. Put the roots in the hole, spread them if they're exposed, and fill the hole with your planting soil. If the roots are still encased in a soil ball, simply fill soil around that ball. When you're filling in the hole, pack the soil down with your hands to eliminate any air pockets.
Water the pine tree(s) generously, until the soil is moist but not wet. Maintain that level of moisture while the pine trees establish to the new site. Consistent watering at this time will make the transplant more successful.