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Size Does Matter

Size Does Matter
Posted on 20/04/08 | Posted by The Fat Gardener

When it comes to gardening I am not an expert. I can dig, plant and even weed, but I have a major gardening weakness – size.

Strolling around my local garden centre I often stumble across great looking plants that suit my garden in terms of soil ph, colour, texture, but my 20/20 vision fails me when it comes to the plant dimensions! Someone once told me ‘looking is not the same as seeing’ and this is certainly the case when I study plant labels. I have had to transplant so many plants in my garden that I have been sought by friends, family and even neighbours to advise on the re-siting of one or other overgrown shrub!

My advice with transplanting mature plants would be to try and do it in late March or early April when the soil is warming but still wet. I was once forced to replant a Bay Standard (Laurus Nobilis) in early February in the snow and although the noble tree survived, I nearly did not.

When lifting the rootball give a wide margin around the trunk and always use a fork, never a spade. Using a spade tends to cut all the thin, hair-like roots which are so important to any plant getting food and water. Snapping the thick wooded roots is surprisingly less important, they are mainly used to anchor the plant (something that can be effectively achieved by properly firming in or the use of a stout stake).

Always carry your shrub or tree on your fork or if too big in a barrow with as much soil as possible – again to protect those all important fibrous roots. Select a strong solid forged fork like the Bulldog ‘Premier’ digging fork which will not bend, twist or buckle under the weight of the soil.

Having dug the hole where the plant is to be re-sited approximately 100% wider than the rootball, but at the same height; add in some plant food or compost. Place the plant very carefully into the hole and back fill ensuring that the soil height around the trunk of the plant remains the same as before lifting. Then water the plant in well – some plants (particularly roses) will also appreciate a top feed, but this is not essential.

I would ask you not to expect too much from your newly transplanted shrub – when you move to a new house it takes time for you to settle into a new environment, it’s the same for your relocated plants! Finally, as with prescriptions from the chemist always read the label – if the label says that your new Viburnum will grow to 3m by 2m then don’t put it in a window box!

The Bulldog 'Premier' digging fork can be found at:

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