Transplanting shrubs


I have old shrubs separating my driveway and neighbour’s front yards. They are old and only produce leaves close to the top. I’m planning driveway re-pavement. So probably their root system will be damaged anyways. I got this idea to move some of them to back yard and let them leave as trees. Isn’t it too late to move them now? They already have little leaves developed. Any other idea?


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

In general, any time you transplant a tree, shrub or perennial, you run the risk of losing it.In general, the larger and older the plant, the greater the chance that the transplant won’t take. That being said, early spring or early fall is the ideal time to transplant: cool temperatures and frequent rain will give the plant plenty of time to take root in its new location. Whenever a plant/shrub is transplanted some of the plant/shrubs roots will be cut and the remaining roots will need to resettle to be able to draw nutrients and water out of the soil to survive.

When transplanting, try and disturb the roots as little as possible. A cool overcast day with forecasted rain is ideal. Never transplant during the hottest part of the day or during a period of drought. When you are ready to transplant it is best to immediately put the plant in it’s new location- which means preparing the hole in the new location beforehand. The general rule of thumb is to dig a hole twice the width of the root ball.

Once the new location is prepared, dig down and around the shrub trying to keep as much of the root ball in tact. Place the shrub in its new location that has been half filled with water at the same planting depth as it was before. Backfill with the soil that was removed and pack it down with your foot making sure all the air pockets have beem elliminated. Finish with a transplant fertilizer .

Remember, deeper, less frequent watering combined with regular applications of transplant fertilizer will help to minimize transplant shock and ensure a healthy, successful transplant.

The following links give step by step instructions on How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs, Transplanting or Moving trees and Shrubs in the Landscape.

Good Luck with your transplanting.