Birch trees are a favored tree among many homeowners who appreciate the bright yellow foliage and the delicate bark of this tree species. When transplanted properly, birch trees can grow well. The key is to choose the right transplant location for your birch tree and to care for the transplanted tree carefully until it settles into the ground.
Plan in advance when transplanting a birch tree from the wild. Advance planning means that you can "prune" the roots of the tree a year in advance so that you'll have a smaller root ball that is easier to move. To root-prune your birch tree, drive a shovel into the ground around the tree so that the roots are cut. This should result in a three- to four-foot-diameter circle around the tree and a well-defined root ball that will be easier to transplant.
Wait until late fall or early spring to transplant a birch tree so that the tree will be dormant and have time to settle into its new location before the weather gets warmer and growth resumes.
Determine an appropriate location for your transplanted birch tree. Birch trees require moist soil and full sunshine on their leaves--a condition that can be tricky to locate. Look on both the northern and eastern sides of your home, where soil conditions will be moister because the ground is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. Other options include transplanting your birch tree under larger trees that will provide necessary shade. You should also avoid areas of your yard where the soil is compacted because of the birch tree's shallow root system.
Look up to make sure there are no overhead wires that will interfere with the growth of your transplanted birch tree. Birch trees will grow upward of 50 feet, so there needs to be plenty of vertical space for it to grow safely.
Check to make sure that there is proper drainage at your transplant site. The best way to do this is to dig a 12-inch hole and fill it halfway with water. Within an hour, the water should have drained completely. If not, you'll have difficulty growing most species of birch trees in this location. River and Heritage river birch trees both grow well in wet conditions, however.
Prepare the transplant location prior to removing the birch tree from the ground by digging a hole that is three times the width of the root ball and three-quarters of its height.
Dig up the birch tree that you are transplanting and move it to its new location. Place the root ball in the hole and cover halfway with soil. Water the tree liberally and continue covering the root ball with dirt until you can see only the top of the root ball.
Apply three or four inches of mulch around the tree to help keep the soil moist.
Check the soil regularly and water as needed to keep the ground surrounding the tree moist.