Elms, Hackberry and Zelkova are some of the most popular landscape trees. Lacebark Elms (Ulmus parvifolia) and other species crossed with U. parvifolia have exploded on the scene with their attractive exfoliating bark and delicate filtered shade. Zelkova are planted likewise because of the Elm-like appearance.  Hackberries are stately trees used in large landscapes or street trees.

Bareroot transplanting of these trees will be highly successful if you follow two simple rules: Prune them for survival and control over-watering until in leaf.

Experienced nurseries have learned that they will have a nearly 100% success rate if the bareroot Elms or Zelkova are pruned heavily when planted or they will have a high mortality rate if they don't. This is especially true for the nurseries in desert like dry climates where dessication is always an issue.

Why? Most dormant trees do not need water when there are no leaves because internal moisture is not exchanged with the atmosphere without the leaves and photosynthesis. This is why trees can be dug and shipped bareroot when the leaves are gone. Usually the delicate feeder roots are re-established to take up moisture by the time new leaves form.

Certain trees and shrubs have very fine and delicate branching structures like the Elms, Zelkova and Pomegranates which will continue to give away moisture to the environment and these branches need to be removed to prevent dessication. Until the delicate feeder roots can re-grow, the tree cannot take up more water.

Hard pruning give the tree a chance to not desiccate while the new roots develop. The new roots grow best in a soil media that is damp but not saturated with water.

The nice thing about Elms and Zelkova, once the roots get re-established, the trees grow rapidly and put on a beautiful canopy. If you try to preserve too much of the original canopy, the tree will struggle at best or perish. Prune it hard and you will be satisfied with the results.


Here are some pages which can be printed out for employees (Storyboards are bilingual):


Pruning Elms, Hackberries & Zelkova

Pruning Elms, Hackberries and Zelkova


Elm Pruning Storyboard - No Central Leader (English & Spanish)

Pruning Elms Storyboard

Elm Pruning Storyboard - Central Leader (English & Spanish)


Zelkova Pruning Storyboard (English & Spanish)