How To Move A Shrub

It's inevitable that some shrubs, for whatever reason, will need to be relocated in your garden. And there is no better time to do this than in the autumn. Here, Martyn Loach describes the best way to successfully move a shrub.

Created by Martyn Loach on Friday, 10th of October, 2014.
Updated on Wednesday, 9th of May, 2018.


A shrub that needs to be moved

They may have outgrown the space where they were initally planted, you may have re-designed the garden and they now just don't 'fit in', or you may finally admit that the shrub was planted in the wrong place. 

When To Re-locate A Shrub

Autumn is the ideal time of the year to move a shrub, but don't forget that this will cause stress especially to older specimens and should be attempted only if necessary.

If the shrub has been established for several years or, like magnolia, resent their roots being disturbed, it might be better to leave them alone.

Younger shrubs can be transplanted more successfully, deciduous species at any time in the autumn and winter when they are dormant, evergreen shrubs should be moved either early autumn or in the spring.

Preparatory Work

Prune out any dead wood so the shrub is easier to move, then dig a substantial hole where it is to be repositioned. It should be large enough to accommodate a large root ball. Add lots of organic matter and break up the soil in the hole.

Water the shrub well the day before and dig a trench all around the specimen, the same distance away from the stem as the spread of branches. The trench should be about one spade deep. 

Moving And Aftercare

Start towards the shrub and extracate the largest possible rootball. Place the uprooted shrub on a piece of damp hessian to move it to a new position as quickly as possible so that it doesn't dry out.

Fill with soil, gently firm in. Water copiously and continue to water over the following weeks. 

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