How can I safely remove and transplant my outdoor plants when I move?
The best time to move plants is after the growing season, when they are dormant. If you have to move your plants in summer, you can ball and burlap roots in spring and leave plants in their holes until the move--not ideal, but sometimes necessary. Lining the holes with mulch or leaf litter will help protect root balls and prevent them from drying out too quickly. When it's time to move the plants, an extra layer of burlap can help support the first layer, which may have degraded in its moist environment.
Here are general tips for moving trees and shrubs:
- Water the soil well the day before moving.
- Determine the length of the roots by exploratory digging. The main area of feeding roots usually corresponds to the spread of the branches.
- Loosely tie in branches before lifting.
- Lift the plant with as much rootball intact as possible. Some thicker roots may need be be cleanly severed.
- Place on damp burlap for transporting. Keep roots covered to to avoid drying by wind or sun.
- Make sure the new location is prepared in advance. Mark the estimated spread of the roots and add an extra 1-2 feet. Excavate to at least 1 foot and turn over the soil at the base and sides. On poor, sandy soils, mix leaf mold or compost into the soil that will be used to backfill.
- Place the plant in the hole and check that the roots can spread out fully. Where necessary, adjust the size of the planting hole.
- Use the old soil mark on the plant stem as a guide to planting depth. Planting too deeply or shallowly will harm the plant.
- As you fill in the hole, firm soil carefully to eliminate air pockets.
- Larger plants and plants in windy sites may require staking for a year or two after replanting.
- After planting, keep plants thoroughly watered. A thick mulch of organic matter such as bark or compost will help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. But keep mulch away from contact with the base of the plant.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service