How to move a shrub

You want to move an established hardy shrub, but worry you may damage it or worse, still kill it? 

There is always a risk, but if something is in the wrong place, just too big for the space or looks out of place, it has to be moved. With preparation, you can move an established shrub successfully and here is the step-by-step guide.

  1. Move shrubs at the correct time, which is between October and mid-March. Evergreen shrubs fare best moved in either October or March. This is because the soil is warmer whereas, deciduous shrubs can be moved anytime during that period.
  2. Check the weather forecast and pick a mild spell with reasonable weather. You do not want to move a shrub when it's soaked and the ground may be waterlogged, or freezing. Both conditions will be tough on the shrub, and the ground will be hard to dig. It is most important not to move a shrub when freezing weather is forecast. 
  3. Water the shrub well the day before the planned move.
  4. First, dig out the hole the shrub is being transplanted to. Sounds simple but not entirely, because at this stage it is hard to judge just how large the root ball will be. It is best to dig the planting hole first so that the shrub can be moved swiftly into its new home. If you get 90% of the hole dug and have to tinker around the edges when you have the shrub out of the ground, that will be fine.
Pittosporum Tenuifolium

5. Then dig out the shrub. The shrub will survive best with as much of its roots intact as possible. This can be tricky as it's hard to know where and how far the roots extend.  To begin with, dig down gently, starting around the canopy of the shrub. If the roots are larger, move outwards so that you dig up as much root as possible.

6.Place the transplanted shrub into the prepared hole and ensure you plant to the same depth as before, which means the soil level is exactly the same.

7. Water and backfill, and if a dry spell follows water again and then cross your fingers.

Problems

The more mature and larger the shrub, the more difficult it is to move.

It is advisable not to move any shrub whilst in flower.

If you are moving the shrub because it is not doing very well in a particular position, it is unlikely to survive. A shrub needs to be healthy to survive transplanting.

updated 20.10.2021