First off try and postpone this until at least three or four days from now so you can water it. By letting the plant drink it’s fill before the move you give it a chance to store some water in reserve. Also you have a better chance of keeping more soil around the roots; a dry root ball falls apart more easily. If it has to move today still water it and move it this afternoon.
Second, prune off about a quarter to a third of the leafy top if you are moving a shrub. You will not be able to save all the roots when digging up shrubs, the root ball would be too heavy to lift. You will be leaving at least 40 to 60 percent of the roots in its original location; by removing some of the leaves the roots that remained with the move will have a shot at keeping what’s left of the top alive.
You should be able to keep the original root system in tact when moving perennials.
Now the digging part.
Of course the bigger the root ball the better the outcome. Or, in other words, the more people you have to lift it from the hole the better the chance you have of success. This of course tells the story of how friendly you are. Can you find three to four friends on a Saturday to help you with this? Can you find three to four people who will drop the plans they had to come and help you? Can you find three to four people who spent the week prior carefully laying out the events needed to pursue and complete their time sensitive project? Can you…….. this is why I am suggesting that you prune off 40 to 60 percent before you dig; the neighbors don’t need to see your big “doe eyes” begging them for help.
Once the plant is dug, lift it out and onto an old bed sheet or burlap. Snug it up around the rood ball and bring it to its new location.
At the new planting spot lift it off the sheet and into the hole that you dug twice as wide. Back fill with the good topsoil you skimmed off the top of the hole you dug; put the sub-soil in the hole the plant left. If more soil is need, and you need to run to the store for this, start the “watering in” possess now; the water will fill up and stay in the basin, directing all the water where the roots are.
Once backfilled with good topsoil a 3” layer of bark mulch will help keep the moisture from evaporating away.
From here on in keep it watered every day for at least two weeks. You can back it off to once every three days for a month; and once every week until the snow flies.
Watering if you are on clay soils is a bit tricky; you can over water and kill the plant. Use a stick to push into the soil around the root ball. If it pulls up wet back off on the watering; if moist still back off; if not to moist give it some.
If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at NiemeyerLandscaping@Gmail.com or post a comment on this Blog