The cooler winter months are excellent to shift plants around your garden or give them away to your friends for their garden.  This is a great job and lots of fun especially if you change your mind.

As part of your garden planning you will identify plants that should be placed elsewhere for best effect. Take several walks around the garden and think about the positions you would like to change.

One of the rules of planting is “right plant right place”. Make sure that the plants you want to shift are going to be placed in the right location in the garden that suits the plant. Shade loving plants in shaded places and sun loving where they will get a lot of sun.

Shifting plants:

  • Identify where you want to position the plant and prepare a planting hole.
  • The new hole should be two (2) times as wide as the proposed root ball and the bottom of the hole forked up so the soil is loose.
  • The plant to be shifted can be pruned to a desirable shape. It is important to reduce the top of the plant back to match the amount of roots that are going to be cut when the roots are dug up and cut through. Reduce by about one third.
  • To identify where to insert the spade, work out this mathematical problem. Measure diameter of stem, multiply that by two (2) and add on the width of your spade.
  • Dig a trench around the plant undercutting the roots to create a root ball of soil and water.
  • Carefully loosen the plant by moving the plant from side to side or getting spade right underneath it and lifting it up.
  • Carefully work a strong tarpaulin or similar under the root ball and lift the plant out of the hole by lifting the tarpaulin etc.
  • At the new hole place the plant in position in the hole so that the depth of the root ball is the same as in its previous position.
  • Once in position carefully backfill the hole making sure the soil goes right down around the roots.  Firm the soil down to ensure the plant is held in position firmly. The soil level around the plant must be the same as in its previous position.
  • If it is a tall plant stake it well so that the winter winds will not blow it over.
  • Water well and mulch the surface.



A Monthly Garden Guide by Alan Jolliffe

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