Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time to move shrubs and trees

We've been talking for a long time about moving this lilac. It was next to the grape arbor. We planted it as a bare-root specimen about 8 or 9 years ago. It's grown too large for its location.

It's fall, heading into the rainy season before winter comes. Now is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. By moving them now, they get a chance to replace lost roots before the hot summer season. They get a bit of a head start and are more likely to survive the process of moving.

I did not take photos of the digging and moving process. I pruned the lilac shrub, removing about one half of its growth. It's still a large shrub, despite that amount of pruning. I dug a trench around it. Not easy - the ground was very hard. The roots were not deep, probably due to the hard ground. I think most of the roots were in the upper 18 inches of soil, or so. Any torn roots, I pruned with a pruning shears to remove ragged edges, but otherwise they were left intact. Of course, a few were lost to digging.

As such a large shrub, it now looks like "it's always been there". Interesting.

I drug the uprooted bush, using an old vinyl shower curtain to smooth the way. I dug a whole in the new location, moved it into place, back filled the soil, and gave it a very good soaking. Even though this is Pacific Northwest and the rains are about to come, I did not want it to suffer dry conditions at the roots, and the ground is only damp to about 1 foot so far.

Lilacs usually take several years to bloom from a small bare-root plant. Most of ours seem to start blooming 4 or 5 years after planting. This is a mature lilac, and I did not want to lose the potential for lots of flowers soon. They bloom from the tops of strong stems that were produced the previous summer. By pruning it back, I probably removed most if not all of the potential blooming stems for next spring. There may be a few to give us a taste, I tried to keep some. If it settles into place, I expect it to bloom in the following Spring on growth it makes early next summer.

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