How to Dig Up Shrubs


When you have a shrub that is not thriving in a certain growing location, moving it to a new growing spot may solve problems. Whether you plan to transplant the shrub to a new location or you simply do not want it in your landscape any longer, dig up shrubs to remove them. Although the work can be difficult to loosen shrubs from their planting location, once you separate the roots from the soil, the shrub should lift right out of the soil.

Step 1

Spread the tarp near the shrub to catch soil as you dig. Position the wheelbarrow over the tarp to hold the shrub when you remove it.

Step 2

Tie the shrub branches together with the rope to contain them and make it easier to handle the shrub.

Step 3

Position the tip of the shovel between one and two feet away from the center stem of the shrub (outside the drip line of the shrub). Push the shovel into the soil completely and then remove it. Dig a circle around the entire shrub with the shovel to loosen the soil, and prepare to remove the shrub from the soil.

Step 4

Dig around the circle a second time with the shovel, this time pushing the shovel as far into the soil as you can and angling the shovel in toward the center of the shrub to loosen the shrub from its growing location.

Step 5

Position the shovel beneath the roots of the shrub and begin to lift. Depending upon the size of the shrub, you may need an assistant with a second shovel on the opposite side of the shrub to lift the shrub with you.

Step 6

Lift the shrub from the soil and place it directly into the wheelbarrow. Take as much soil along with the roots as possible to protect the roots from damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rope
  • 2 Shovels
  • An assistant (optional)


  • North Dakota State University: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: transplant the shrub, dig up shrubs, lift the shrub

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.