How To Transport A Tree In A Truck

Whether you're transporting a Christmas tree home for the holidays or you're just looking to add some new trees to your yard, you may be wondering how to move it using a truck. Well, if so, you've come to the right place. We've researched the best method for transporting a tree in your truck, so you don't have to. Check it out below!

Follow these steps to safely transport a tree in a truck:

  1. Make sure the tree is small enough to be safely transported.
  2. Lift the tree into the back of the pickup truck.
  3. Lay the tree down with roots towards the cab of the truck.
  4. Secure the tree using ropes, tarps, or bags of soil or compost. 

Now you know the basic steps to transport a tree in your truck. However, if you'd like a little more than the basic steps, keep reading as we elaborate on each one. We will also include a YouTube tutorial for you to check out. Additionally, we'll answer some other questions you might have about transporting trees including Christmas trees!

Chevrolet Heavy Duty 2500 truck shot, How To Transport A Tree In A Truck

Transporting A Tree In A Truck

Transporting a tree in a truck isn't as simple as just placing the tree in the bed of the truck and driving it to its new home. Trees can be sensitive to wind, and you probably don't want your tree to be without leaves by the time you get home.

If you place your tree in the truck standing up, the leaves and foliage will be left exposed to the wind during the drive. If you are driving down a highway you will be exposing your young tree to wind speeds it might experience during a storm. 

Size of the Tree

Trees are often classed by caliper. The caliper is the diameter of the tree around 5 feet from the soil. Trees that can be safely transported in a pickup truck by the everyday person are typically no larger than 2.5" caliper.

You should keep this in mind before deciding whether to transport the tree yourself. Make sure you have help to load the tree, as they can be very heavy.

Lifting The Tree Into The Truck

Be sure to use correct lifting methods to get the tree into the back of the truck by using your legs to lift and not your back.

It may take two people to safely lift the tree. Always move the tree by its container and do not try to move the tree by its trunk. Moving a tree by its trunk can damage the tree before you've even got it home. 

Once you've managed to lift the tree into the truck, place the roots towards the cab end of the truck with the leaves toward the tailgate.

If the tree is longer than your truck, gently rest the trunk of the tree along the edge of the tailgate. If you're concerned about damaging the trunk this way, you can wrap it in a sheet or towel to give it extra padding. 

Securing The Tree

Since you'll likely need to plant the new tree with new compost, it's a good idea to either purchase a couple of bags when you pick up your tree or bring some bags with you. You can place the bags on either side of the tree's pot in order to prevent it from rolling around in the back. 

If you don't have compost, you can secure the tree by other means. Placing a heavy object on either side of the pot should do the job, but you can also secure your plant by using bungee cords, ropes, or tarps. 

If you'd like to see an example of how it's done, check out this short YouTube tutorial:

Can you transport trees on their side?

You can transport trees on their side. In fact, as previously mentioned, this is the recommended method. Placing a tree on its side can help prevent any wind damage to the top of the tree. Trees should be laid as flat as possible and protected using sheets or tarps. 

Unloading A Tree

Once you've loaded the tree into the truck and transported it to its new home, you then have to unload it from the truck. Unloading a tree from a truck isn't as simple as just rolling it off the end.

If a tree is dropped it can damage the rootball and harm the tree. You want to give the tree its best chance at life so, what's the best way to do this? Let's find out. 

How do you unload a tree from a truck?

There are two main steps when it comes to unloading a tree from a truck. The first is to get the tree as close as possible to its permanent location, and the second is to gently lower it from the back of the truck. 

Get The Tree As Close As Possible

First, if you can, plant the tree the day you bring it home. Planting it on the day of transport will ensure the tree remains healthy and give it the best chance to thrive. To make unloading as easy as possible, drive the truck as close to the tree's planting spot as close as you can.

The less distance you have to move it by yourself, the better. If you aren't able to drive up to the tree's permanent spot, consider transporting the tree in a wheelbarrow after you've unloaded it. 

Click here to see this wheelbarrow on Amazon.

Gently Lower It Out Of The Truck

Once you've got the tree as close as possible, you will need to gently remove it from the truck. If it took two people to load it, it's a good idea to have at least two people unload it.

Get the tree as close to the back of the truck as you can, and then lift it by its container the same way you did when you loaded it. If the tree is on the heavy side and you don't have additional help, consider using a ramp to slide it out of the truck. 

A thick plank of wood can be used as a ramp. Even if you are using a ramp, remember to take it slow, and gently slide it down the ramp only moving the tree by its container. If you're transporting a ball and burlap tree, move it by its rootball. 

Transporting Christmas Trees

These photos feature a festive Christmas background with a Christmas tree on top of a red truck

Another time you might have to transport a tree is at Christmas time. If you're one of the people who favor real Christmas trees, you might have plans to head to a farm or a store and select one of your own.

Let's discuss the best way to transport a Christmas tree so you can avoid damage to your vehicle and the tree itself. 

How do you secure a Christmas tree in a truck bed?

Securing a Christmas tree in a truck bed isn't too different from securing any other tree. If you're concerned about the Christmas tree scratching the truck bed, you can put down a tarp or sheet as a layer of protection.

Make sure the tree's trunk is towards the truck's cab and the foliage is pointing towards the tailgate. If you can, wrap the tree with either a net from the supplier or cover it with a tarp yourself. Secure the tree using a strong rope to prevent it from sliding around. 

Click here to see this tarp on Amazon.

Do Christmas trees scratch car roofs?

If a Christmas tree is not secured to the roof of the car correctly, it can cause scratches and paint damage. To avoid scratches to the roof of a car, you should install a roof rack. Roof racks offer a safe way to tie the tree down and safely secure it. Scratches often occur when the tree moves around during transport.

AAA has some harrowing statistics about the safety, or lack of, during the transportation of Christmas trees which are often a result of unsecured trees. They recommend securing it to the roof rack at the top, bottom, and middle of the tree. You should pull and tug on the tree before driving to check for any movement. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully our article has helped explain how to safely and efficiently transport a tree in a truck. Fortunately, it's a relatively easy process, and if you take the few steps we've listed above, you should feel confident that you're transporting the tree the correct way. Good luck with your gardening endeavors!

For more reading on the topic of truck beds, check out some of our other blog posts here:

What Pickup Trucks Have An 8-Foot Bed?

Truck Bed Dimensions – Length And Width By Bed Type

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