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In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook explains how to transplant a shrub.

Steps for transplanting a shrub

  1. Estimate the size of the shrub's root ball.
  2. Mark hole outline onto ground in new location with line-marking spray paint.
  3. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, and as deep as the root ball is high.
  4. Use stout string to truss up the shrub's branches.
  5. Dig a trench all around the base of the shrub with a pointed shovel.
  6. Use a straight-blade transplanting shovel to dig under root ball of shrub.
  7. Push the shrub over onto its side.
  8. Slide a plastic tarp under the root ball.
  9. Push the shrub upright onto the tarp.
  10. Drag the shrub over to new hole by pulling on the tarp.
  11. Measure the height of the root ball.
  12. Pull a string across hole and measure its depth; it should equal the height of the root ball.
  13. Set the shrub in the hole, then cut the strings holding the branches.
  14. Backfill around the shrub with soil mixed with slow-release fertilizer and superphosphate.
  15. Water thoroughly every day for a week, then every other day throughout the summer.

Tools