There are several reasons why it might become necessary to move a plant to a different location, and as long as it's carried out properly, most plants will survive a transplant without a problem. If plants are becoming crowded in their current home, if you want to move them to a sunnier spot, if you want to take them along on a household move, or if you're simply rearranging the landscape, a transplant is in order.
Select a planting area for the transplant according to the needs of the specific plant. Some plants will require 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight each day, while others may need only morning sunlight and others will do better in light shade. Most plants require well-drained soil, and won't grow well where rainwater pools for more than 6 hours.
Prepare the planting area ahead of time. Remove weeds, roots, rocks and large dirt clods. Cultivate the planting area with a spade or tiller to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Most plants will do better in soil that has been enriched with 4 to 6 inches of compost or decomposed manure.
Water the plant the day before transplant day. Watering the plant will help to keep the plant's root ball intact, and hydrated plants will better withstand the stress of transplantation.
Transplant on a cool, overcast day. Insert the shovel into the ground about 6 inches from the plant so that you don't cut into the roots, and lift the plant carefully from the ground.
Place the plant on a piece of burlap, and tie the burlap carefully around the root ball. Keep the plant moist, and transplant the plant as soon as possible. If the hole is nearby, place the plant in a cardboard box.
Dig a hole in the prepared area, and using a trowel, work a handful of bone meal into the bottom of the hole. Set the plant in the hole, with the top of the root ball at the same soil level in which it was planted previously.
Fill the hole with reserved soil. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots, and if necessary, add more soil.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the transplant, but don't allow the mulch to pile up on the plant. Mulch will keep the soil temperature even, help to control weeds and retain moisture.
Keep the soil damp until new growth emerges from the transplant, which indicates that the plant has rooted. Don't overwater, as most plants will rot if the soil is excessively wet. After the plant has rooted, return to the plant's regular watering and fertilizing routine.