Q: We are about to embark on a basement project which will require a good deal of regrading in our back yard. We have a twelve foot tall osmanthus, three very large azaleas and nine well-established roses, plus some hostas, which have to be taken out. I want to preserve the plants and transplant them when the project is finished. What do we do with these babies to keep them safe?
A: You need to “heel in” the shrubs. Dig a trench three feet wide, twelve inches deep and twenty feet long in a semi-shaded part of the yard. Cut back the shrubs by one-third to compensate for the roots they will lose. Dig the affected shrubs (it sure would be nice to borrow the contractor’s backhoe!) and place the root balls alongside each other in the trench. Use the soil excavated from the trench to cover the roots. Water occasionally, keeping the soil damp but not soggy, until you can replant them.
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