Moving house but can’t bear to be parted from your favourite plants? Follow Adrienne Wild’s advice on how to relocate your garden

House with garden

You can move your garden when you put down new roots ©iStock

Make an inventory

Include photos of everything you are going to take with you, including fixtures and features like a bench, ornaments, pots, greenhouse and shed, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Note! If you don’t give accurate information about what you’re taking and leaving behind before the contract is signed and exchanged, the law assumes the garden will remain as your buyers saw it when they made an offer.

Anything removed later could lead to legal action.

Dreaded knotweed

If your garden is plagued with Japanese knotweed, you MUST have it professionally cleared. This weed produces a massive underground root system and in spring throws up canes clothed with speckled leaves up to 3m tall.

It’s invasive and can cause serious structural damage to property. As the seller you are obliged to inform the buyer and are liable to rid the garden of it.

This is not a DIY job – professionals with insurance-backed guarantees need to be brought in. Also, be aware that some lenders are reluctant to provide the money to buy a house that has Japanese knotweed, unless they are supplied with a survey and Management Plan report.

Moving your plants

Don’t wait until you have a buyer before you begin ‘packing up’ the garden. If you have
any plants that you are sentimental about, check which will need to be dug up for transplanting and which ones thrive better from taking cuttings.

A huge range of trees, shrubs and climbers can be propagated from cuttings. It’s a job for spring and autumn and you may need to set up a temporary nursery area in the garden so you can keep the plants cool and well-shaded during the summer months to maximise the chances of successful transplanting.


The ideal length for a cutting varies but most shrubs will root from 7-10cm cuttings. Select cuttings from healthy shoots and trim them to size, cutting cleanly underneath a leaf joint with a sharp knife and also cut off the tip.

Then remove all other leaves except the top pair. Take several cuttings, dip the ends of each one in hormone rooting powder and insert them in a pot of all-purpose compost, where they should start to root well before you move.

Unearthing plants

The best time to dig up herbaceous perennials is during early spring and autumn when temperatures are not overly warm.

Most cottage garden varieties and ornamental grasses can be dug up and divided into smaller pieces.

These should be taken from the edge of the clump, each with a couple of shoots and a piece of root.

Pot up some of them ready for the move and replant others and everyone will benefit.

Trees and shrubs

Evergreen shrubs will re-establish best if lifted in early October or May and will be easier to handle if you remove up to one-third of the plant stems and foliage.

Ground-hugging evergreens, such as periwinkles, form spreading clumps and these can be dug up and cut into several rooted sections.

Be sure to water each plant before you dig and aim to lift them with as much root as possible.

Pot them up immediately using soil-based John Innes compost.

When it comes to deciduous trees and shrubs, it’s important to wait until the leaves drop off and they are dormant.

It’s a bit risky to move established plants, but if you decide to take a special tree or large shrub with you, it must be prepared carefully.

Give the plant plenty of water a few days before the move.

Dig a 60cm-deep trench around the plant. Lift with plenty of soil on the root ball. If moving a young tree, you may also need to cut through the taproot that is anchoring the plant with a saw.


Proper aftercare is as important as good transplanting. Once the tree or shrub is in place, water thoroughly and keep a 1m circle of soil around it clear of weeds and grass for at least two years.

Best in show

To get the best price for your property, aim to make the garden appear low maintenance yet glorious.

✿ Rake over any ground that you disturb when lifting plants and fill the gaps with colourful annuals, such as pot marigolds, cornflowers and poppies, as well as seasonal bedding.

✿ Keep the garden in tip-top condition. Jet-hose or scrub paving and timber decking.

✿ Routinely hoe borders to stop weeds getting a foothold.

✿ Keep the lawn in trim, not forgetting the edges, and give it a healthy glow by feeding it with a quick-acting liquid lawn tonic.

✿ Remove faded blooms to encourage more flowers.

✿ Tie in wayward shoots on trees and shrubs and especially those that are hanging over paths.