‘Now is the time!’ Gardening expert on how to move established trees and shrubs

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Autumn is the perfect time of year to re-arrange your garden. It’s also a great time to move established trees and shrubs to new areas in your garden. Managing Director of Hopes Grove Nurseries in Kent, Morris Hankinson, explained exclusively to Express.co.uk why now is the best time to move established trees and shrubs to other parts of your garden.

Hopes Grove Nurseries was established 27 years ago and grows approximately one million hedge plants in 50 acres of land in Tenterden.

The nurseries regularly supplies plants for ITV’s Love Your Garden which features Alan Titchmarsh and David Domoney.

Morris said there is no guarantee moving established trees or shrubs will be successful but autumn is the best time to do it.

He said: “If it’s a shrub or it’s a tree or ‘tufty’ outdoor plant by and large, now is the time.

“Now or late in the spring. Sometimes you’re not going to be successful moving a large shrub.

“You stand the best chance over the coming two or three months for sure.

“It’s all around that soil being nice and warm.

“When you dig it out and move it, or you plant a new one, the roots start growing straight away.”

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Morris said when he plants shrubs at the nursery in the autumn, they can often establish roots with a couple of weeks.

He explained: “I’ve seen it on the nursery. We grow a lot of shrubs on a field and a lot of hedging plants.

“You can plant things like laurels and yews out in the first week of October and I’ve gone to see how they’re doing two or three weeks later and you pull one out and there’s white roots on the bottom.

“In the space of just 14 to 21 days. It’s amazing. That is because of the warmth in the soil.”

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The hedging expert also said planting shrubs or trees now often means they will grow more quickly.

“If you planted the same tree in March or April, the one that was planted in the autumn is going to go ahead and grow so much more quickly because it’s so much more established,” he added.

When you move a tree or shrub, ensure it’s going to be in the correct conditions.

A shrub that prefers shade won’t thrive in full sunlight.

Morris said: “As long as the basic conditions that plant likes are the same.

“It might be a little bit sunnier or windier, but beyond that it should be fine.”

Morris’ top tips for moving established trees and shrubs

  • Try and move shrubs and trees with the largest possible root ball of soil, soaking them well both before and after you move them.
  • Increase your chances of success with bigger and older shrubs by pruning them to reduce the length and number of branches by 30 percent to 50 percent before you start. Pruning the trees or shrubs first means less water is lost by transpiration which must be replaced by the re-developing root system.
  • All transplanted trees and shrubs do well if you add a little bonemeal (well mixed with the soil) into the planting hole. This is a natural fertiliser that encourages root growth rather than top growth.
  • Add some mycorrhizal fungi at the same time for best results.
  • Securely stake taller shrubs and all trees so they don’t get battered by winter weather.
  • Check your new plants now and again over winter, if the wind dislodges them then firm them back in with the heel of your foot so the holes don’t fill with winter rain.

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