How to - Techniques

How to move a large shrub

By
Judith Adam
Photography by
John Etheridge

Woody plants don't like being moved while in leaf, so wait until your shrub starts to snooze


Step 2

Wrap around and tie the branches with soft jute twine to compress them slightly and prevent breakage while handling.

Step 3
Insert the spade or shovel all around the root pruning line, this time pressing forward and under the root ball, lifting it upward from all sides to loosen. Go around the shrub several times, gently levering it further out of its hole in small increments. A successful move is dependent upon those interior roots being able to function right away in the new hole. Forcing the shrub out in a few massive movements results in excessive root tearing and can break apart the entire root ball. Once excavated, place the root ball on landscape fabricor an old sheet and tie it all around to hold the root ball together.

Don't attempt to carry the plant by yourself unless you can comfortably support it under the root ball. (Never grasp and carry a wrapped shrub by its trunk or crown.) If it's too heavy, slide the wrapped shrub onto something that can be dragged, such as old carpeting, a shower curtain, a flattened corrugated box or even a toboggan. Take the plant to its new hole and decide which side should be facing out. Unwrap the shrub and carefully lift or slide it into the hole, setting it down very gently.

Step
4
Once the shrub is properly positioned in its new hole, hold it in place to prevent it from toppling over while quickly packing some soil around the root ball. Shovel in the remaining soil, firming it all around the shrub with your hands. Never tamp down with your feet: this can compress the soil around the root ball and collapse its pore structure, driving oxygen away from the roots. Make a slight saucer shape with the backfilled soil to prevent water from running away. Water thoroughly, using a transplant solution if moved in spring, but not if relocated in autumn (transplant fertilizer solutions stimulate root growth in rising soil temperature, but send the wrong message to plants when soil is cooling). A seven-to-eight-centimetre layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or leaves, will help to conserve moisture.

 

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