How to Transplant Hedge Shrubs


Some hedges and shrubs can eventually outgrow their original planting site. Once this happens, they either need to be removed and discarded or transplanted to another location. If you still like the hedge or shrub and don't want to just throw it away, rest assured that hedges and shrubs transplant fairly easily from one location to another. They don't have an extensive root system like trees, and they are much less massive. With a few garden tools and a little time, you can transplant a hedge or shrub.

Step 1

"Root prune" by digging a trench with a shovel in a circle around where the root ball of your hedge or shrub will be, about six months before you want to move it. The root ball should be one-half to one times as wide as the height of the shrub and one-third to one-half times deep as the height of the shrub.

Step 2

Backfill the "root prune" trench, and water the soil thoroughly to settle it.

Step 3

Tie up the branches of your hedge or shrub when it is time to transplant.

Step 4

Mark a north-facing branch by drawing an X on a branch that faces north with a black permanent marker, so you can correctly orient the hedge or shrub in its new location. Also mark where the trunk meets the soil by drawing a small line around the trunk at soil level.

Step 5

Dig your hedge or shrub up by digging in the same location as the root pruning trench. Dig straight down and under the bush. Slowly lift the hedge or shrub out of the ground. Wrap the root ball in burlap if you don't intend on immediately planting it.

Step 6

Dig a hole at the bush's new location that is 50 percent wider and just as deep as the root ball. Keep the topsoil and subsoil separate, so they can be placed back in the hole in the same order.

Step 7

Set your hedge or shrub in the center of the planting hole. If you burlapped the root ball, leave it on, but undo it from the sides of the root ball. Lay the root ball flat at the bottom of the planting hole.

Step 8

Shovel all the subsoil back in around the hedge or shrub, and firm it with your fingers.

Step 9

Water it thoroughly with 1/2 gallon per square foot if you have sandy soil or 1/4 gallon per square foot if you have clay soil.

Step 10

Add the topsoil once the water drains. Tamp the soil down gently with your foot, and water again to settle the soil.

Step 11

Place 2 to 3 inches of mulch around your shrub but keep it a few inches away from the trunk. This will help retain soil moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Black permanent marker
  • Shovel
  • Burlap
  • Garden hose
  • Mulch


  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Transplanting Established Trees & Shrubs
  • North Dakota State University: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Planting and Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: transplant hedge shrubs, planting hole, root pruning, rootball, constant soil moisture

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.