Successful re-establishment of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) on surface-mined lands in the western United States is problematic because the species generally regenerates vegetatively by sprouting from parent roots in the soil; however, topsoil is removed in the mining process. Previous attempts to plant aspen on reclaimed mine sites have failed because transplanted root sprouts or seedlings do not have an extensive root system to access water and nutrients. This study identified factors that limit the survival and growth of aspen on reclaimed surface-mined lands by examining planted aspen saplings with supplemental irrigation and removal of competing vegetation in a fenced plot. The aspen saplings were grown on reclaimed roto-tilled, fresh-hauled soil or on dozer-cleared stored soils. Separate observations were made on survival and growth of nearby plots of natural aspen sprouts (fenced or unfenced) and on potted aspen seedlings. The best combination of conditions for aspen survival used transplanted saplings from local sources on fresh-hauled soil directly removed and placed from local aspen stands. Growth was better when competing vegetation was controlled by hand-hoeing around individual trees. The plants responded less to irrigation, but irrigation with non-saline water may enhance survival and growth in years with drought conditions. Aspen trees in an unfenced plot were heavily damaged by browsing ungulates.