Guide to Gardening

Autumn Gardening

March and April – when it’s not too hot and not too cold – are great months for transplanting evergreen shrubs and small trees. But, before you start, think carefully. Transplanting always involves risk for the plant, so don’t do it unless you absolutely must – or if you’re prepared to take that risk.

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The chances of success depend very much on the size of the plant. Generally, the smaller the plant, the easier it will be to move with minimal root disturbance.

When it comes to larger trees and shrubs, you’ll be limited by the weight you can lift. A root ball one metre across can be surprisingly heavy and may require at least four people to lift. If the root ball is larger than you can physically handle, you’ll have to cut the roots back to a manageable size, which could cause irreparable damage. In this case it may be better to consult an expert arborist for advice.

Despite these qualifications, there are many things you can do to improve your chances of success at transplanting time, including:

  • Prepare the new position well beforehand. Dig organic matter and some gentle Dynamic Lifter or Bio Gold pellets into the soil. Add water-storing crystals if required. Check drainage, aspect etc.
  • If the plant has a large root system and you can wait a couple of months, start by assessing the diameter of root ball you can handle. Then use a sharp spade to cut vertically down into the soil around this circle. Push the spade in as deeply as possible. This will encourage new roots to grow inside this area during the coming weeks.
  • Choose a cool day to move. Water the root ball and the new planting spot and allow both to drain.
  • Move with care, digging to extract the root ball with minimal disturbance. Wrap with plastic sheet or hessian to hold the root ball together.
  • Position plant in its new spot so it has the same aspect as before – and don’t plant more deeply.
  • Backfill gently and water to settle soil around the roots.
  • Trim any damaged shoots. Apart from this, these days most experts suggest it’s best not to cut back the foliage.
  • Make sure the root ball stays moist, especially in the vital first weeks.
  • An application of Yates Dynamic Lifter Seaweed Tonic will boost the growth of new roots and help the plant to re-establish as quickly as possible.

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