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Reorganizing your Garden & Transplanting

by Patrick Leitch – Landscape Foreman

March is still winter, and most of your landscape plants are still dormant. If your landscape is tired or plants that you love just haven’t done as well as intended in their location, now is another perfect time to move them and re-arrange your garden.

The best times of the year to transplant plants are in fall after the first freeze, or now in late winter through early spring. This strategy is to avoid changing the plant’s environment during the seasons of active growing, which puts undesirable stress on them.
For deciduous trees and shrubs, you’d want to transplant before their leaves are out. Same for perennials. Move them just as they start to emerge from the ground in spring or fall when they are starting to go to sleep and growth has stopped.

Now, how do we best prepare the new location? We recommend to first dig the hole at the new location for the transplant—especially if it will be in a new area or planting bed, as you never know what you’ll run into when digging. If the new location is not a freshly-created planting bed, we always dig a hole for trees and shrubs that is 2-3 times as wide as the anticipated root ball, and only as deep as the bottom of the root ball to the base of the root crown. Learn how to avoid planting your plants too deep or too shallow.

When digging up the transplant, it is important to protect as much root structure as possible. We like to start by digging around the root ball outside of the dripline of the upper canopy. There is no use moving any dirt that does not contain roots so we continue to dig around the root ball until the outer roots are exposed. Cutting some roots is okay, especially when the plants are dormant. Our goal is to maintain as large of a root ball as possible and still reasonably be able to move the plant safely. Once the root ball is exposed and loosened, we find the best way to maintain the integrity of the roots by transferring it to a plastic pot, burlap, or old tarp.

It is best to move the transplant to the new location as soon as possible, that’s why we prep the new hole first. We like to add Bio-tone fertilizer into the fill soil as we plant—making sure the fertilizer is applied in the root zone, not sitting on top of the surface.

Another expert practice is to stake the plants that are loose or shaky rather than piling soil on top of the roots to steady them. The root crown should be level with the top of the soil to allow for best penetration of moisture to the root zone. Creating a ring of soil outside of the root ball of the plant will capture water preventing it from running off and away from the plant.

Then we mulch in a layer of 2-3 inches, as covering the soil keeps roots cool, moist, and prevents soil from being washed away.

Transplants require watering just as a new plant from a nursery. Continued care for these plants is required regularly throughout the year until they are established and thriving with the cycles of the natural environment.

Call 614-873-7333 if you need to schedule our help!


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