Make Moving Your Garden To A New Home Effortless With This Easy Guide

Posted on: 1 April 2015

You've packed up the clothes, you've packed up the furniture--maybe you even packed up the kitchen sink in the process. Did you know that you can even take your beloved garden with you, too? With a little bit of skill and patience, you can pack it up and have the movers transport it to your new home. By working with your moving company and following the instructions below, you'll be able to keep enjoying your much-loved plants year after year.

Create a Temporary Home at Your New Location

At the new location, create an area where you plants can be placed directly after the move. If possible, use artificial sunlight bulbs and/or a room with a naturally lit window to create the most true-to-life conditions possible. This will act as a temporary growing area for at least a few days, allowing you to prep your new garden space and settle in without feeling rushed.

Quick note: A greenhouse is ideal for most climates, but isn't necessarily practical for everyone, so make do with what you have. A flat surface in front of a picture window or closed-off room will do for a few days, too.

Trim and Prune Everything You Can 1 Week in Advance

Regardless of the season, trimming and pruning back as much excess foliage and branching can help to reduce the amount of stress your plants undergo during the actual move. The reason for this is tied to how most plants function. Simply put, the more surface space limbs, flowers, and branches take up, the more work your plant will have to do to keep it fed. It's a bit like the difference between feeding a 10-lb dog and a 100-lb dog--the larger dog will require fewer resources.

Quick Note: While pruning is normally only recommended in winter, moving presents a special circumstance. On a risk-vs-benefit basis, it's better to prune before a move than to wait until afterward.

If you plan to move a tree, bush, or shrub for which occasional pruning is suggested--or even just allowed--do so before your move to reduce the amount of stress on the plant. As a general rule, you should aim to remove approximately 1/3 of excess foliage found on most trees, shrubs, bushes, and flowering plants. Any more than this can result in more shock to the plant than you'll save in the end.

Give Your Moving Company Explicit Instructions

The majority of movers are well-versed in handling delicate items like plants, but they may not have a full grasp on any individual plant's specific needs. Don't assume they know how to safely move your plant--give explicit directions and tips in written form well before your move.

If your plants must be kept in a certain temperature range, make sure you outline this. Most flowers are particularly sensitive to cold, as are cactus plants. A long trip in a van in subzero weather can be deadly for them. Likewise, many leafy bushes suffer just as much in high, sweltering heat. Simply asking the movers to run the air conditioning or heater can prevent issues before your plants arrive.

Quick Note: If you are moving over a great distance, don't forget to let the movers know if your plants should be watered. Generally, it's okay to skip watering for up to two days regardless of the plant you are moving. If your plants will be in storage or held up for a few days, have the movers moisten the soil halfway through their stay.

Pack Up Your Plants

The day before your move, you should "dig in" to digging up your plants. Ideally, you want to have them packed and ready as close to moving time as possible, but if it's not possible to do them on the same day, the day before is close enough.

Gather a few supplies: 

  • A roll of burlap cloth
  • A variety of pots or 10-gallon buckets
  • Twine
  • Fresh bags of soil appropriate for each plant type

Digging and Packaging Your Plants for the Move

To start, use a shovel or a trowel to dig into the soil at least 5" to 6" in diameter around each plant. Your goal is to remove the plant as well as a bowl-shaped section of earth below it, containing as many roots as possible. 

Quick note: If the root system is extensive, you will likely need to cut through it in the process. While this should be avoided when possible, it's fine to slice through the roots when needed. When necessary, use a small, sharp knife like an exacto to cut through instead of crushing the roots.

Once you've worked loose the bowl-shaped section of earth, cut a piece of burlap cloth large enough to wrap around it. Place the root section into the cloth, bringing the edges up around the sides. Finally, tie the burlap cloth off carefully above the earth. 

From here, fill an appropriately sized bucket a third of the way to the top with soil. Place the burlap-covered plant roots into the container, and use more fresh soil to stabilize it into place. You're ready to go!

A Quick Note on Trees and Large Plants

It's important to recognize that large plants frequently have larger root systems. For trees, major shrubs, and other larger species, expand the diameter you dig up to include as much of the root system as possible. Very large trees may be impossible to move simply because of their sheer size.

During the hectic process of moving to a new home, you may be tempted to leave your garden behind. While it can be easier to sell it with the house, the above steps and the help of a good moving company can help to ensure that you get to enjoy your plants for years to come. For questions about how to make taking your garden along with you part of your moving process, contact your local moving company at a site like today.


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