From time to time I want to move trees anywhere from 5-500 miles to either a new nursery location or a permanent planting location. Usually, these trees are potted, sometimes they're bare roots, rarely are they ball & burlap.

How should one move trees using a pickup truck? When possible, I just put potted trees in the cab. Trees larger than a few feet need to go in the bed, however. With bushes, I've transported them standing up but this seems very risky with wind damage. The best way I found so far was to actually lay the trees gently on their side, root-end against the cab, and crown toward the tailgate (or even hang over the tailgate with a ribbon tied to their top if they're longer than the bed). I then tied the root/pot against the cab/down against the bed to keep the tree from sliding away from the cab, potentially damaging its crown. Then I covered it using a tonneau cover (which only worked because I only had a couple of potted trees at that time - if I had to stack many pots of trees that way I'd probably need an agricultural fabric or a truck bed canopy).

How do experts (e.g. nursery workers) move many/long trees in pickup trucks? If using a trailer, what kind and how?


1 Answer 1


The methods you describe are reasonable for the situation you have.

You have some basic concerns.

  • Damage during loading or unloading
  • Wind damage
  • Hazards to traffic

You seem to have taken these into account. Just be sure that nothing is going to come loose from the truck. And wrap the crown of the tree very well to protect it. Possibly a simple plastic tarp will be enough. You can get quite large such tarps for reasonable cost. They usually come with metal reinforced eyelets suitable for attaching ropes.

Wrapping the roots might be a good idea as well to protect them from drying.

You might consider some method of weighing down the tarp at strategic locations to prevent it flapping.

A tree that extends more than the length of the pickup truck box is going to be a challenge unless you can get a larger truck with a box. If you do this a lot you may want to consider such a truck. Or possibly buying or constructing some sort of wind break box to go on the back of your pickup. A simple canvas or plywood construction can quickly be put in and removed. Here is just one example to get the idea of what I'm talking about, but you can quickly Google moreenter image description here.


You could consider making it extend somewhat past the back of your truck. Depending on how "handy" you are and what storage you have available, you could get more or less ambitious.

In theory you could even remove the top, load the tree, put the top back on, drive to destination, remove the top, unload the tree. That gets the top out of the way to get at the tree.

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