We are in the process of creating some more parking spaces to the front of the house, which means that a lot of shrubs, trees and perennials are being moved. Amongst other things, we have moved two large Viburnum davidii, a large Lilac and a Tibetan Cherry tree which has lovely Cinnamon coloured bark. Two fairly large Yew bushes have also been removed and we know from experience that these do not take kindly to being transplanted.

However, luckily for us, March is a good time to move plants, so here are some guidelines on what to do.

Moving Shrubs and Trees

When to move

  • Deciduous plants can be moved any time in the dormant season from October until mid-March – try to do this before new buds are appearing.
  • Evergreen plants can be moved in October or March as the soil is beginning to warm up and it is less stressful for the plants to get established.

Preparing to move

  • If you know you are going to move a plant, prepare the shrub or tree for transplanting by digging a trench around the plant, about a foot wide and deep and then fill this with sand or sandy soil. This will encourage fibrous root formation. The plant can be dug up during the following transplanting cycle e.g. do this digging in Spring to transplant in Autumn, and vice versa. If, like us, this could not be done, then try to take as much of the root as possible when digging up.
  • Once the plant is out, place it onto sacking or plastic so that the roots can be covered and the soil won’t drop off, and then put the plant into a wheelbarrow or carry the plant (with the aid of willing or unwilling helpers) to the new position. Prepare the new site by digging a big enough hole to ensure that the roots have enough space to spread out. Use the original soil mark to create the new surface level. For trees and large shrubs it is recommended to dig a square rather than a circular hole.
  • Firm around the plant with the heel of your boots and then water in.
  • In the case of a tree or a large shrub it may be an idea to stake the plant in order to stop it moving in the wind.

Which plants don’t like being moved?

Sadly for me Roses, Daphnes, Brooms, Cistus, Magonolias and Yew do not like being moved, so only move if you have to. Unfortunately, all of these have been transplanted here at Fieldcrest, but I will discard the Broom as it virtually never re-establishes.


  • Make sure that you continue to water the plants especially if we have a dry spring and summer.
  • Conserve water by putting a mulch of bark or compost around the new plant and keep the area weed free and not in competition with other plants.
  • I don’t apply mycrorhizal fungi to the roots of the shrubs but this may be worth doing to increase the chances of the shrub re–establishing.

Just in case you want to do more transplanting, March is a really good month to lift and divide perennials in the garden!