Moving into a new home or making modifications to your own is a process difficult enough to handle, without having to worry about dealing with a misplaced hedge. Unfortunately, you run the risk of losing a lot of natural beauty (and possibly a great fence!) if you simply tear the plants up and toss them out with the trash.
Transplanting the entire hedge to a location that suits both you and the plants is an ideal solution, but how do you go about moving an entire yards length of growth without destroying either the plants or your own sanity?
First, take stock of the condition of the hedges. If more than half of the row is dead or dying than you may have to reconsider trying to transplant any of them. Moving plants that are old or in frail condition will probably not survive the move. If, on the other hand, the hedge is healthy and green and obviously growing, you will most likely have success in transplanting them.
Try to find out, though, the species of the plants used in the hedge, if you do not know already. If you are moving the hedge from a sunny location to one that receives very little sunlight, this can be especially important, as the hedge may not be suited for its new home.
When to Transplant
The best time to attempt to transplant hedges is when the plants are dormant, in late fall or winter. However, if you live in a climate that freezes often, this can be difficult. In this case you will have to use your own judgment to determine when to proceed with the transplantation.
Moving hedges in the middle of summer involves working around a more active root system, and must be considered carefully so as not to risk damage to the plant.
Once you have determined that it is possible to move the hedge, prepare everything you need before you dig into the soil. Moving an entire row of hedges is like trying to put a complex puzzle together with an egg timer beeping off the seconds. Since you will not be able to transplant the entire root system, you will have to thin the plant out through pruning in order to avoid overworking the roots that will remain after transplanting.
Also, exposed roots can quickly dry out, so once you have dug up the plants of your hedge, it is best to transplant them immediately or temporarily plant them in pots. Determine the depth of the root ball (the root and soil that has attached itself to the main root system) and try to measure the transplant location to the same depth. If you plant it at a lower level, oxygen cannot reach the established roots of the root ball, while planting it higher can expose roots and cause them to dry up.
Placement of the individual components of a transplanted hedge is almost as important as keeping them watered. The branches of such a hedge have intertwined and grown together for some time; therefore, if one plant is rotated or placed in a different location in relation to its prior neighbors, you will more than likely end up with a skewed and off-balance hedge.
Helping the Roots
When performing the actual transplant of the hedge, resist the urge to break the soil at the bottom of the holes you have dug. It does not help the roots penetrate deeper as much as it allows the plants to sink, inviting excess water and risking rot.
Instead, leave the holes solid at the bottom, ensure that the width of the holes are about twice as wide as the root balls that you have, and place them in, covering with a mixture of compost or mulch and the excavated soil. Water as you fill in the hole to avoid air pockets which can cause the hedge to shift as it settles.
The last and most important thing that you will need to do to complete the transplant of your hedge is: water it! Until the root system gets established, you will need to water the hedge daily, as well as keep it free from invading pests and weeds. Rest assured that the work will be well worth it. You will have a hedge that beautifies your home rather than gets in its way.
How to Plant Hedges