The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Fragrant Viburnum

Question: I need to move a fragrant viburnum that's about 5 feet tall because of a house remodeling project. Should I move it before it flowers or after? Also, do you have any tips for transplanting? Thank you!

Answer: It's best to transplant your shrub sooner than later to give it a good long growing season to reestablish its root system. First, prepare your new planting site so your excavated shrub's roots are exposed as little as possible to drying sun and air. Then, the day before you plan to transplant, water the shrub deeply so the roots take up lots of moisture. On moving day, wrap the branches of the viburnum with burlap and twine to make the shrub easier to handle. Then form the root ball by cutting the soil/sod with a sharp spade. The perimeter of the rootball should extend to the drip line (the outer tips of the unwrapped branches). Then, make another cut about 9" on the outside of that line, and dig a trench about 18" deep between the cuts. This will give you lots of room to maneuver your spade to cut under the root ball and loosen it from the spot. Use a spade (or two, if a friend can help) to lever the root ball up and onto a tarp, drag it to its new home, and replant immediately. Water the shrub well at its new location, apply mulch, and then have a cool drink!

Ideally, this should be done on an overcast, calm day to reduce the chance of roots drying out, and to keep you cool, too.

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