Can Established Boxwoods Be Transferred to a New Location?

I have several established boxwoods lining my property. I am interested in transplanting them. What is the correct way to move them, and will there be any lasting damage if i move them to a different location?

Large, well-established boxwoods can be transplanted if you can dig out enough of the rootball. With large plants, this is difficult for a homeowner to do without special equipment such as a tree spade, which leaves a large ball of soil intact around the roots. Most of the shrub's roots will be in the top 12 inches of soil, but roots may extend out several times the width of the shrub. It may help to make downward cuts a foot deep into the soil about 18 inches from the main stem one year before you want to transplant them. 

Cutting through the roots like that forces them to branch and develop a more extensive root system close to the main trunk. Then the following year you can dig up the shrub and transplant it, attempting to keep as much of the soil in place as possible. The best time to transplant is either late winter just before spring growth begins, or a couple of months before the ground freezes in early fall.

1 Comment

  1. Three years ago I decided to move my boxwood of 10 plus years (previous owners planted it). I had just finished pulling out numerous larger bushes with a lot of elbow grease and a chain attached to our SUV. My first mistake was that I forgot I was relocating the boxwood so I would need to remove it more carefully than the others and keep the roots as intact as possible. It was quite the workout moving a mature boxwood AND digging an adequate sized [filtered] for the equally mature roots to be relocated into. Even my new location ended up being a bust: I chose a spot close to my driveway so now it gets crushed by the snow we shovel despite our efforts to leave it exposed. A little planning goes a long way with boxwoods and this article is especially helpful. I don’t want anyone else to underestimate the level of difficulty this project can be. I should have known I was in over my head when I had a Pulaski axe in my hands.

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