Is Transplanting The Right Decision?

Transplanting RhododendronTransplanting is integral to my projects because a majority of my work is with existing landscapes.  While many of the existing plants are worthless and can be removed, some have value and should be considered for transplant.

Some of the reasons to transplant are:

  • to correct “overcrowding” where a group of plants are too close to one another.
  • to relocate a plant that has outgrown its space.  For example: too close to a building, driveway or walkway; too large and now overpowering an area or blocking a view.
  • to save desirable plants in the way of planned construction.
  • to re-arrange for design purposes.  Sometimes plants are just not arranged properly.
  • to move to a better suited location / exposure.  Plants are often placed in incompatible spots and struggle to survive.
  • sentimental reasons.  You want to bring a plant that has special meaning in your life with you – or, you would like someone else to have it.

Transplanting From A Contractor’s Perspective

A contractor who is looking out for the homeowner’s best interest should consider the value aspect.  Does the plant type, condition of the plant, logistical challenges of the move  and the chance of success justify the cost?

These are some things to consider:

  • does this type of plant transplant well?  Some plants, by their very nature, are not good candidates for transplanting.
  • is this a good time of year to attempt the move?  Generally you might think early spring or fall, but that too can vary depending on the particular plant.
  • how is access to the plant and space to work?  Sometimes it can be extremely difficult or, in fact, impossible (I try never to say that) to work with and around a situation.
  • how important is the plant to the homeowner?
  • can I replace the plant (or come close to it) with a new one as compared to the cost of transplanting?
  • what is the risk factor as it relates to  cost?  This is where it sometimes comes down to the homeowner’s decision.  For example:  If you estimate the cost of a transplant to be $1500, but in your opinion (and from experience) you feel there’s a 50% chance of success, the customer may decide one way or the other based on their perspective. Typically there are no guarantees for transplants.

Transplanting From A Homeowner’s Perspective

If you’re considering transplanting and are speaking with a contractor, look for someone that has knowledge and experience in this area.  Costs will be absolute and success will be a variable (again, typically with no guarantees).  There are companies that specialize in transplanting and often have equipment just for this purpose.

For the do-it-yourselfer you may consider all of the above before “digging in” (did I just say that?).  Gather as much information as you can on the specific plant you want to move.  Perhaps take a few pictures, measurements and even a branch sample to a reputable nursery to help them give advice.

Also feel free to ask questions and leave comments below.

Transplanting is a huge topic and I’ll be sharing with you more information and experiences in upcoming posts.

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