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How to Transplant Old Boxwood Hedges

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Boxwood hedges are an upright, evergreen plant commonly found in yards across the country in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. Boxwood hedges can be planted in formal or informal landscapes as borders, dividers or focal plants and respond well to pruning. Transplanting boxwoods is sometimes necessary if the hedge no longer fits in the present location or you simply decide to change the appearance of the landscape. Moving boxwood hedges requires advance planning.

Plan to root prune the boxwood hedges six to 12 months before transplant date, if possible. This strengthens the root system within a compact area, making it easier to move boxwoods. The best time to move old boxwood hedges is in the fall, with spring being a second option.

Place a shovel firmly in the ground immediately inside the canopy line of the boxwood to root prune it. Continue around the perimeter of the hedge, but do not pick it up. Leave the boxwood alone until moving day.

Tie a piece twine on the north side of the boxwood hedges. Face the transplanted hedges the same direction in the new location. Use the twine to tie up the branches of the boxwood, if needed for protection. Attach it to a lower branch, circle it around the hedge and tie it at the top.

Dig a trench farther out than the root pruning cut with the shovel facing backwards. This should be large enough for a root ball of at least 14 inches for boxwoods with a 2-foot canopy and up to 27 inches for a hedge with a 7-foot canopy, according to Clemson University. The depth of the root ball should be from 1 to 1 1/2 feet deep.

Sever any roots encountered with the shovel or use lopping shears for large roots, if needed. Place the shovel at a 45-degree angle to uncut the root ball. Lift up one side and slide the burlap under. Lift the other side and pull it across slowly.

Dig a hole double the width of the root ball, but the same (or less) depth of it. The transplanted boxwood should be at the same height previously planted (or above to allow for settling), but never lower.

Place the boxwood hedges facing in the correct direction. Push the burlap down in the hole and remove the twine holding the branches. Backfill the hole halfway and then fill with water. This removes air pockets and pushes the soil around the roots. Fill the remainder of the hole, step on the soil gently and saturate with water again.

Cover the area around the boxwood hedges with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch. Extend it out over the entire canopy area, but keep it clear of the trunk. The mulch retains moisture and prevents weeds from growing.

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