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How to Transplant a Privet

Privets (ligustrum) belong in the family Oleaceae, which include olive trees. They are native to regions in Europe, Africa and Asia, and also grow in the U.S. Privets are perennial shrubs that can grow to a height of 46 feet at maturity, making them great hedging or screening plants. Known to be quite hardy, privets will transplant quite well, especially while they are young and easier to handle. With proper transplanting techniques, your privet should adjust to its new location in no time at all.

Prepare the privet for transplanting two to four months ahead of time. Wait until the plant goes into dormancy in fall to begin the transplant. Trim the entire shrub back by one third. This will allow the privet to put its energy into establishing a new root system when moved.

Consider the width of the plant at its widest point, so you can figure out where to dig. The root ball requires being two-thirds as large as the widest section of leaf spread. For example, if your privet is 3 feet at its widest point, you will need to obtain 2 feet in diameter of root ball.

Cut through the feeder roots around the diameter of the shrub with a flat-edged shovel. Make the cut approximately 4 to 6 inches closer to the privet’s trunk than you will at the actual transplant. This will allow the feeder roots to adjust to the cut and form new growth on their tips, before the final transplant.

Prepare your new planting site. Select a location that has the same lighting that the privet is currently growing in. Clean the area of weeds and grasses. Amend the existing soil with an application of compost or manure, working the substance into the area approximately 1 foot deep. Dig a hole that is two times wider than the privet’s root ball, but no deeper than the privet is currently growing in.

Dig around the privet’s root ball approximately 4 to 6 inches out from where you make the first cut. Chop through the feeder roots and then dig under the shrub to release it from the soil. Cut any roots with loppers, to free the plant from its location.

Place the shrub on a tarp or wheelbarrow to relocate it to its new planting site. Do not drag it by its branches.

Situate the privet in the new planting hole, facing in the same direction that it was originally. Fill the planting hole with soil, packing it firmly down around the base of the shrub. Mulch the planting site to help the soil retain moisture and cut down on new growth of weeds.

Water the privet deeply, making sure the water leaches down to the shrub’s roots. Continue watering three times per week to keep the location moist. Once established in the new area, cut back to watering once to twice per week.

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