How to Transplant Shrubs


Shrubs are a great way to landscape the lawn, but it becomes awfully difficult to know what the best course of action may be when the shrub grows too large, or you change your mind on the aesthetic of your yard. Transplanting a shrub from one area of a landscape to another saves money, but requires a great amount of preparation and planning. Start the transplanting process the season before the actual moving of the plant, for the most success.

Step 1

Prune the roots of the shrub to make the shrub easier to transplant. The Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends pruning the roots back so that the plant is easier to move. Prune the roots in March for those being transplanted in the fall (October or November), and October for those being moved in the spring.

Step 2

Tie up the branches of the shrub so that they are out of your way using 1/4-inch rope.

Step 3

Draw a line around the shrub according to the desired size of the root ball you wish to transplant. Dig a trench at the line and trim back the roots to the edge of your drawn circle. Fill the hole in and water to settle the soil.

Step 4

Dig a hole that is twice as large as your root ball when ready to transplant and dig until you reach the bottom of the root ball. Use the spade shovel to dig down into the dirt, switching to the flat-edged shovel when digging under the shrub.

Step 5

Gently lift the shrub up using the shovel, and slide the plastic tarp under the root ball. Deciduous shrubs under 3 feet in height, with a trunk that is less than 1 inch in diameter when measured 6 inches above the ground, may be moved without any dirt on the roots, while larger shrubs require a transplant with the dirt.

Step 6

Measure the size of the root ball, then tie the plastic tarp around the root ball to protect it. Use the measurements to dig a hole for the transplant area.

Step 7

Place the shrub in its new hole and back fill the area with soil. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil while filling to provide the shrub with an extra nutrient boost while recovering. Water every day for a week.

Things You'll Need

  • Straight shovel
  • Spade
  • String
  • Pruning shears
  • Plastic or burlap tarp
  • Measuring tape
  • Water


  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Transplanting Established Trees and Shrubs
  • North Dakota State University: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • This Old House: How to Transplant a Shrub
Keywords: transplant shrubs, moving shrubs, shrub care

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.