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How to Transplant Hedges


Transplanting is best done in early spring after the last frost or early autumn about 6 weeks before the average date of the first frost. If the plant goes dormant, transplant while in the dormant stage.

Don't wait to water the plants until the entire hedge has been transplanted the delicate roots on the plants planted first will dry out.


Some plants don't like to be disturbed once they've been planted. Understand you may lose a few plants in the transplanting process.

A hedge has many uses in a landscape. It marks the division between garden rooms, provides privacy, blocks an unwanted view, and provides a backdrop for other plants and flowers. Sometimes a hedge outgrows its usefulness and needs to be moved or transplanted. A mature hedge may require equipment to dig the plants out, dig the new bed, and transport the plants. A bush 5 feet high with a 3-foot-deep root system is difficult to move without help or equipment.

Decide where the new hedge will be. If the hedge is currently growing in the shade it's best to find a new spot in the shade as well. Some plants, like cacti, will become sun-burnt if the orientation to the sun is changed. In other words, keep the north side of the plant facing north and the south side facing south after transplanting. Mark the orientation on the plant or tie a ribbon to mark the plant's orientation.

Dig the new plant holes. If the ground is hard, use a pick ax or water the ground first and then dig the holes a few days later. The best option is to dig a trench three feet wide and three feet deep. If that's not possible dig separate holes three feet deep and wide. Space the holes as far apart as the current bushes are in the hedge. Fill the holes with water and let drain. It may not be possible to fill the entire trench with water before it drains, so just give it a good watering for 30 minutes.

Prune the hedge back. Since you're cutting off some of the root system when digging up the plants you need to compensate by pruning off some of the branches and leaves. A good rule is to prune no more than 20 percent of the total growth should be pruned at any one time. This varies among plants quite a bit; for instance, rose bushes can pruned severely.

Water the hedge thoroughly a few days before transplanting. The hedge should be as hydrated as possible before moving.

Dig the hedge up one plant at a time with as much of the root system as possible. Try to keep the soil around the roots. Place the soil ball in a 5-gallon bucket and carry to the new site. If it won't fit in the 5-gallon bucket, wrap the soil ball with the tarp or burlap and carry to the new hedge site. If it's too heavy to carry, transport it in the wheelbarrow, wrapped in burlap.

Add soil amendments to the dirt you removed from the trench or holes and mix in thoroughly. Place the hedge plant in the hole making sure that it's not planted any deeper than the original depth. Look for the soil line on the trunk of the plant. Adjust the soil depth if required. Fill the hole and water.

Continue transplanting the hedge one plant at a time even if you've dug a trench rather than holes. Fill the trench with soil after you plant each plant. After you've finished transplanting the entire hedge water it again. Water every four or five days for the first month to get the transplants off to a good start.

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