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News / Life / Clark County Life

Gardening With Allen: Fall good time to relocate plants

By Allen Wilson
Published: September 16, 2023, 6:01am

I have some shrubs that are growing too close together. Is this a good time to move them? How about new plants?

Fall is a great time to move plants from one location to another and to install new plants in the landscape. The soil is still warm and the air temperatures are getting cooler. That is an excellent combination for getting the root systems of plants started growing in a new location. Planting in the fall gives plants time to establish their root systems before they make new top growth. I planted some shrubs late in the spring and they suffered badly with the unusually hot weather. They just did not have adequate root systems to provide for the rapidly growing top growth.

Leaves turning color or starting to fall is an indication that top growth has stopped and plants are going into dormancy. Root growth continues after top growth has stopped. The dormancy of deciduous plants also indicates that evergreens are going dormant too.

Even professional landscape designers and contractors make the mistake of placing young plants too close together and not allowing enough room for them when they reach maturity. It often means taking every other plant out before they lose their leaves where they overlap. It’s nice if you have another location to move them to.

If you have read my column for very long, you know I recommend improving the soil before you plant. But do not limit your soil improvement to just the area immediately around individual plants. Those new roots will want to grow into surrounding soil. So add organic material such as compost or bark dust to areas beyond and between plants. I recommend an area at least three times the width of the new plant’s root system.

Keep in mind that plant roots need air as well as moisture. If all the pores in the soil are filled with water, there will not be adequate air and oxygen for the new roots to thrive. If you are thinking of planting in an area that is lower than surrounding soil, move soil to that area so that excess water does not accumulate in the area around the new plant. That is why beds around the foundation of a building are higher than adjacent lawn areas.

If a tree is taller than about 8 feet, it should have a stake for support. Place the tie at the lowest level that will hold the tree upright. Use flexible ties that will not cut into the bark. If the tree is staked too tight and does not move, then development of trunk and roots is delayed. The trunk grows stronger as it resists the wind.