How To Move or Relocate Shrubs

Sometimes it's necessary to move or relocate shrubs. Maybe your landscape plans have recently undergone an overhaul, or perhaps you're adding a shed or garage. Even the addition of a swimming pool can call for some rearranging of your yard. No matter what the reason, if you need to move or relocate a shrub, use these tips and suggestions to ensure that the move goes smoothly and your shrubs will continue to thrive.

  1. Small shrubs can be dug up and moved by one person. If your shrub is under 3-feet tall, you should be able to handle the job on your own. For larger shrubbery, call on a friend to help you out.
  2. Early spring and late fall are the best times to move your shrubs. This is when there is little new leaf growth, and the plants are semi-dormant.
  3. Advance planning is the key to making sure your shrub will thrive in its new location. About two months before the move, take your shovel and dig straight down into the earth in a circle surrounding the shrub, about two feet away from the shrub itself. This will break up the root ball slightly, making it easier to remove the shrub when the time comes. Repeat this process again about a month before the move.
  4. Dig the new hole first. You'll have to estimate how big the root ball of the shrub will be, but generally speaking the new hole should be about as wide as the circle you've been digging around the shrub in its existing location to tighten the root ball.
  5. Take the soil you removed from the new hole and mix it with any fertilizer, compost, or other preparations you use in
    your garden. Set this aside for replanting.
  6. If your shrub has large or long branches, gently wrap them up with twine and secure them before digging and relocating the plant. This will prevent breakage or damage while moving the shrub.
  7. To remove the shrub, dig around the same circle you used to prepare the roots earlier. This time, move the shovel gently upwards once it is deeply in the ground. Continue doing this, going around the circle, several times until the root ball feels loose enough to pull out of the ground.
  8. Gently lift the shrub out with your shovel and place the root ball on an old sheet or piece of canvas. Wrap up the root ball to protect the fragile roots. Carry the shrub to the new location by the root ball, never by the branches. If the shrub is too heavy, place it on something sturdy and rugged such as a large piece of nylon fabric, an area rug, or even a wagon with towels packed in to keep the shrub upright, and drag it to the new hole.
  9. Replant the shrub in its new location, packing in the soil by hand. Make sure that the soil is packed tightly, but not so tight as to crush the roots. Water the area well and place a couple of inches of mulch around the shrub. Use the leftover soil to refill the old hole, if necessary.

Keep an eye on your shrub to make sure it's thriving in its new home. It may take a while before it returns to perfect health, but under normal conditions the move shouldn't cause much harm or damage.


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