Moving a tree or large shrub

If your tree or shrub is bigger than 6-7ft, it might be worth buying and planting a new plant, rather than trying to move it. Any large plant that is transplanted, will typically take 2-3 years to recover to the same level of fruit or flower production that it is currently producing.

The best time to move a large plant or tree is in the late-autumn or winter when the tree is dormant.

Ideally you need to start the preparation of the move the autumn the year before. Dig a trench around the plant just outside the tips of the leaves and about 30-45cm (12-18" deep). Cut through any roots, now leave the tree for a year. The tree will produce fibrous roots on the inside of the trench, helping the plant get re-established a lot quicker, once moved.

The following year, or if you can't wait, dig down and underneath the tree, taking as much of the root ball as you can. To protect the roots in transit drag sacking a tarpaulin or a large, strong piece of plastic sheeting, underneath the root ball, gather up the four corners of the sacking and tie to the stem of the plant, wrap delicate branches with a net curtain or fleece to protect them. The plant can now safely be moved to its new position.

Dig the new hole before removing the tree from its existing position, this will reduce the chance of the roots drying out.

Make sure that the tree or shrub is planted at the same level in the ground as it was in its original position. A quick tip is to lay a bamboo cane across the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the cane, removing or adding soil to the planting hole, depending on whether it's too high or too low.

Before back filling the hole, stand back, and look at the tree/shrub to make sure that the best side is facing where you will see it most often.

All plants should be watered well before and after moving, potting-on or planting in a border. Add a good layer of mulch after watering to keep in moisture.

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