Moving trees and shrubs

Home » Moving trees and shrubs

We are often asked whether it is possible to relocate an established tree. We would always advise against relocating established trees (larger than 6ft). The success rate is low due to stress and root damage caused during the moving process.

There are circumstances where a transplantation is possible, however, we would always recommend planting a new tree from our semi-mature range

The root of the problem

The loss of too many roots during the relocation will cause the tree to fail. It might also damage other plants who have intertwined root systems. With expert care, young plants can be transplanted reasonably well. More established specimens will suffer greater stress and require advanced preparation (see below). Generally, plants that have been growing in a position for more than five years are much less likely to survive transplanting than younger specimens.


Moving a tree or shrub is very stressful for the plant. Plants will not grow in soil that contains too little air, insufficient nutrients or extremes of moisture. Preparation of the planting site is important for the long term survival of the tree.

  • Dig a square a hole to avoid root girdling (a girdling root is a root that grows in a circular or spiral pattern around the trunk or at or below the soil line, gradually strangling the trunk).
  • Prepare the new planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and slightly deeper than the root ball to allow for a layer of mulch.
  • Dig the hole shallower in wet soil conditions but always check tree suitability first.
  • Improve soil fertility by mixing in one third of a bag of good quality planting compost
  • Add Rootgrow to encourage full potential root growth

Lifting and moving

  • Water the soil well on the run up to moving.
  • Try to determine how far the roots spread out. Larger specimens may have root masses of 3-4ft or more in diameter and 40 – 45cm or more in depth.
  • Loosely tie in branches before lifting.
  • Lift the plant with as much root-ball intact as possible. Sever thicker roots cleanly with a sharp knife or secateurs.
  • To keep the roots covered and avoid them drying out, have a piece of damp sacking or similar material for transporting.
  • Where possible, lift and replant in one smooth operation.


  • Place the plant in the hole, checking that the roots can be spread out fully.
  • Use the old soil-mark on the stem of the plant as a guide to the correct new planting depth.
  • Do not re-plant too deeply.
  • Avoid “mulch volcanos” around the newly planted tree and this will cause stress, bark rot and root dehydration over time.
  • The tree will need to be staked in it’s new position for up to two years.

Timing is key

Move deciduous trees when they are dormamt (October through to early March).

Evergreens – in October or late March. The first two seasons after planting are the most critical to the establishment of all plants.

Take advantage of our expertise

Our team of experienced landscape gardeners will make sure your ground is prepared to the highest standard and your plants are positioned and staked correctly. They’ll leave you with full aftercare instructions and planting warranties <click here> to find our more.