Don’t forget your tarps! Now that the deciduous trees are leafing out, they are prone to wind-stripping at high speeds. Leaves are essential to help a tree recover from transplant shock and thrive in its new home. Losing leaves during transport puts the tree’s entire survivability at risk. Even evergreens benefit from tarping so their needles or broad leaves don’t dry out from wind exposure.

Follow these guidelines for safe tree transport:

  • Types of tarps: Whenever possible use a breathable mesh tarp in a neutral color. A solid plastic tarp can trap heat and moisture, essentially cooking the tree on a hot day or on a long trip. A green or neutral colored tarp is preferable to one made of a dark material that would absorb much more heat.
  • Load for airflow: Strategically load trees to prevent breakage and ensure safety for all drivers on the road. Whenever possible, the top of the tree should lie towards the back with the root balls toward the cab of the truck. This allows the airflow to travel up and over the trees, otherwise you risk breakage and leaf loss. If it is necessary to arrange them in the opposite direction, just be sure they are properly tarped and secured.
  • Stagger trees: When loading multiple trees, try to layer them on top of each other so that the root balls of the trees support those that are layered on top.
  • Tying down: When strapping is necessary for transport be sure to only attach the straps across the root balls, never the trunk or branches. Straps can easily damage the bark, leaving wounds that are unattractive and can allow disease and insect infestation to penetrate the interior of the tree.
  • Water: Finally, if you do have a long haul ahead of you, consider stopping along the way to water the root balls and spray down the foliage to keep it from drying out.