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How to transplant a privet

Updated April 17, 2017

A privet is a landscape shrub that can be moved or transplanted during the late fall or spring after the ground can be worked. The roots must be disturbed as little as possible during the process so some preparation is required. The limbs of a privet need to be cut back by two-thirds before transplanting. If the plant is really large, a strong back is required to dig under the plant and cut back the deep and tenacious root system. You must leave as much of the dirt and root system in place as possible to make transplanting a privet successful.

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  1. Soak the root zone of the privet that you are transplanting two days before removal. Water with a slow stream so the entire root system will be soaked with water. Let drain for one day before digging.

  2. Cut the entire shrub back by two-thirds using garden shears or loppers. You can shear it off evenly or cut unruly branches back to a main stem depending on the garden style, but removing top growth is essential for the privet to recover after transplanting when there are fewer roots to support new growth during the growing season.

  3. Dig a trench around the root system which will be as far out as the limbs reached before you pruned the shrub. Dig straight down, cutting as many roots as cleanly as possible.

  4. Begin removing soil around roots and working your way under the shrub's root base. The roots can reach as much as 1 or 2 feet below the surface on a large shrub. Continue removing soil and cutting the roots until you have worked your way under the shrub and it becomes dislodged from the ground. Save as much of the root system as possible during the removal process.

  5. Pull the shrub out of the ground onto a tarp. Drag or carry the plant in the tarp to the new location and plant at the same level it was previously planted. Add water as you add soil around the root base when transplanting to prevent air pockets from forming. Add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the privet to preserve moisture.

  6. Tip

    Do not fertilise newly transplanted privet until it is actively growing in the spring because fertiliser can burn the new roots. Keep soil moist around the new transplant until established.


    Use safety glasses when working around shrubs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Privet shrub
  • Shovel
  • Pruning loppers
  • Source of water
  • Tarp
  • Mulch
  • Safety glasses
  • Garden gloves

About the Author

Jay Golberg is a certified Texas nursery professional and professional project manager. He has 30 years of business and farming experience and holds bachelor's degrees in English writing from St. Edward's University and finance from Lamar University.

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