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When to move your hedge

Transplanting shrubs and bushes can sometimes seem more complicated than it needs to be. As long as you choose the right time of year, plan ahead, and make it quick, it can be a pretty easy job. Check out our top tips for moving hedges and bushes.

The vast majority of hedges and bushes prefer to be moved during the dormant season between late October to mid-March. However, there are many different types of hedges and bushes, and each has its own preferences.


Transplanting a rose bush

Unlike other bushes, roses prefer to be transplanted just above the ground level. This means that the hole you dig for them to sit in doesn’t need to be as big as for other bushes. You should also only use about half of the excavated soil to fill the rose in before giving the plant a thorough watering. You should allow the hole to fill up and drain with water before you replace the other half of the soil on top and press down firmly to remove air pockets. 

How to move a privet hedge

Privet hedges require a strong cut back between one and two-thirds of the plant to encourage new root growth after the move. If the root system is particularly tenacious, this should also be pruned back. However, you should always endeavour to retain as much of the root ball and attached soil as possible.

Transplanting hydrangea bushes

Hydrangeas are a really popular bush in many gardens and can be transplanted if necessary. Wait until the flowers have died back and the leaves have dropped before you begin. In the UK, November is the best time to move a hydrangea because the ground has not yet frozen, but in a warm year, you could wait a little longer. Once you have transplanted your hydrangea, make sure you water it regularly through the spring as it establishes itself.

When to move rhododendron

The transplanting of most rhododendrons, even the larger ones, can be performed fairly easily. In cooler and temperate parts of the UK, transplanting is recommended in early spring.
A move should only be performed on younger rhododendrons, as more established bushes will have their roots intertwined with other established vegetation – removing such bushes will potentially cause damage to the root system.
Unlike other hedges, rhododendrons do appreciate a layer of compost as well as a sprinkling of fertiliser once they have been transplanted. Rhododendrons also prefer the soil to be lightly applied and aerated so don’t be tempted to plant it too deep or pack in the soil as you would with other types of hedges. 


Deciding where to move your hedge

Before moving any hedge, you need to work out where you are moving it to. Consider whether the conditions for the hedge are similar to where it is now.

Ensure that the other bushes and plants in the new location are compatible with the hedge you plan to move. There is no point moving the hedge next to plants that like lots of water if it requires very little; they just won’t be compatible. For example, if it is in the shade at the moment, move it to another shady space.

Moving a hedge or bush in your garden

Once you have chosen your location, you are ready to start the moving process. You will need:

  • A sharp flat spade

  • Pruning shears or a hedge trimmer (go cordless for precise movement around hedges)

  • Twine

  • A sheet or burlap sack

Dig a suitable hole for your hedge

Make sure that it is twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to accommodate the hedge roots. You can estimate the root ball size by gently digging around either side of the roots of your hedge, without digging it up entirely just yet. 

Drench the soil with water

This will ensure that when the hedge is moved to its new location, it has enough water to survive and recover. It is also worth adding a layer of fresh compost to the soil to provide additional nutrients required for healthy hedge growth. 

Prune your hedge

To limit the stress, you should try to ensure that it has everything it needs to recover from the damage it will suffer when being transplanted from one location to another. To ensure your hedge stands the best possible chances of surviving the move, prune the hedge back. Remove any dead or dying leaves and take it back as far as possible. You can use a hedge trimmer or pruning shears for this job but remember: never cut more than 20% of the hedge in one go. Make sure you water the hedge a few days before the move to ensure that it is fully hydrated. 

Digging up the hedge

When digging the hedge up, first - loosely tie the branches together with twine. This will allow you additional room to work in and keep the branches out of the way. Start by digging approximately 10 inches away from the base of the trunk. Create a trench around the shrub gently tipping the bush onto a sheet or burlap sack. This will make it easier to transport to its new location. 

Dealing with the roots

If you do need to cut the roots, be sure to use a sharp pair of secateurs or a knife to ensure a clean cut and reduce stress on the hedge. Try and be as gentle as possible saving as many roots as you can. Avoid the temptation of breaking up the soil at the bottom of the roots. This may cause the bush to sink, therefore encouraging rotting. 

Introducing the hedge to its home

Add the hedge to its new hole and spread out the roots out as much as possible. Make sure that the hedge is no deeper in its new hole than its old one and fill in with a mixture of soil and fresh compost. Water the hedge once more and keep watering the hedge every few days. You can also add additional organic material like bark chipping or grass mulch, which will slowly break down and provide nutrients to the hedge

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