Tips On Moving Shrubs And Trees

Perhaps you’ve decided that your garden needs to be moved around , or that a shrub or tree has outgrown an area of your garden. However, unless you know how to move shrubs and trees and do it properly you can risk really damaging them. This guide should help advise you on when and how you should move shrubs and trees.

When should I move them?

The best time to move plants is dependent on their type:

  • Deciduous plants: These can be moved at any point between late October and mid-March.
  • Evergreen plants: These would be best moved either towards the end of October or late March.
  • Regardless of when in the year you move the plants, you should always choose a still, calm day to prevent roots from drying out.

How do I move them?


  • Dig a circular trench one spade spit between November and February, 30cm wide and parallel with the branch spread.
  • Fill the trench with sharp sand to encourage the roots to grow fibrous meaning that the plant will re-establish better.
  • Thin the growth by pruning any old and worn-out wood, but you shouldn’t over prune. This can be done after the plant has been replanted.
  • Have the spot in which the plant will be replanted ready in order that you can move it from one place to another quickly.

Lifting and Moving:

  • Water the soil the day before you move the tree or shrub.
  • Ensure that you have dug far enough out for the roots to be easily lifted. Larger trees and bushes can have root spread of up to 1.2m in width and 45 cm in depth.
  • Loosely tie branches before lifting and lift with as much of the root matter intact as possible.
  • If lifting and planting is not possible in one action, you should rest the plant on a piece of damp sacking for transporting, keeping the roots covered so that they aren’t dried out by the wind or sun.


  • When the plant is in the whole, spread the roots around to ensure they have enough growing space.
  • Use the old soil mark on the plant to ensure you have the right planting depth. Planting both too deep and too shallow can be damaging to the plant.
  • Firm around the base of the plant to eliminate air pockets as you plant. Be aware that larger plants may need extra care for a year or two after re-planting to ensure that they establish well again.


  • Keep plants sufficiently hydrated, regular watering and coating the soil with mulch will help to do so. However, you should keep the immediate base of the plant free from mulch.
  • Avoid watering Evergreen plants in frosty weather as this can do more damage than good to them.
  • Apply a fertiliser to the soil during Spring

Do you have any more tips on how to best move shrubs and trees? Let us know in the comments!

[Photo Credit Distant Hill Gardens ]