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This tree/shrub featured in my  dreams last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Was it a nightmare Dove, you and a hand trowel to remove it all?


I moved an established berberis earlier this year but it wasn't quite that size. I cut it back to a couple of feet, dug it out with as much root as I could manage, and tucked it into a little corner with some fresh compost and kept it watered. It seems fine but it's a deciduous (purple foliage) variety which may make a difference. If you feel like having a go at moving it then crack on, but I'd be inclined to agree with most of the replies here - if it has to be moved because of building work then you're probably better removing it and starting anew.

nutcutlet wrote (see)

Was it a nightmare Dove, you and a hand trowel to remove it all?

Nope, for some reason it was growing in our garden, and the neighbours' son was had hung his sleeping bag on it to air in the sunshine - without asking us or telling what he was doing 


Interesting idea.



Jim Macd

Okay, sorry forgot I was going out last night. A 4" diameter trunk would need a root ball of 42" d. Ideally you want to be moving an evergreen in October, moving a tree in October, ideally you should have spaded a 42" circle around it to encourage fibrous rooting in March. Well we don't live in an ideal world so try to dig it now and try to get a 42" d root ball. It isn't going to be easy and the plant will be shocked so you're going to have to give it lots of TLC but I think it's worth trying to save. Hope this helps

Thank you to all who have offered advice, encouragement, ideas and suggestions etc.

Thank you to Jim Mcad.

I shall be giving it a go and i'll begin by digging over a 42" Diameter circle around it tomorrow. I'll also take some cuttings too and pot them.

It hasn't gone into dormancy yet, in fact it's in flower!

I won't attempt to dig it out until Xmas / very early new year.

Jim Macd

I just read that you might consider moving it next year. You could spade around it now but leave it in. A bonsai trick is to dig a trench around it and fill that in with leaf mould. This both encourages fibrous roots and is easily shaken off leaving a good fibrous root system to transplant later. If you want to wait then do this in March giving the whole six months to grow then in October move it.

I hope you don't mind me saying though, that it has been quite severely pruned already and not the most beautiful of plants, considering the amount of work involved I, honestly, would be thinking about starting again as I think some of the other replies hinted at. I didn't really look at it before. Having said that the bottom of the shrub is interesting with more work you could get a very nice shrub but it would take some considered pruning over the next few years. 

Jim Macd
Mark Feather wrote (see)

It hasn't gone into dormancy yet, in fact it's in flower!


No, that's the problem with evergreen shrubs. They don't really have a dormancy. However it's normally accepted that end of October is the most dormant part. If you do dig it out at Christmas make sure it isn't frosty of course and don't do your back in before Christmas.


  Hi mark

My back is hurting just thinking of the work involved in shifting that shrub.

you must be an optimist, and a determined one at that.

  ''feather brained'' idea or what!!i

                                   sorry could'nt resist,  i wish you good luck.  x


I know it doesn't look a great shape in the photograph but it is and it's old and very much loved by a lot people.

It didn't take long for people in the local community to find out it was in danger of being pulled up.

My life is at risk if i don't at least try, so far 4 people have volunteered to help.

I'll do my best to take photos and make a note of how and what we do when we move it and i'll let you all know how it gets on over the next 12 months or so.

Jim Macd

Good one Mark, it does have potential with the right pruning. Let us know how you get on.

We have now successfully moved this Burberis at last, it didn't happen over the Xmas / New Year holiday after all.  But we did get a very big hole dug out where we decided to move it to during the holiday. We also dug a deep trench around the burberis leaving a circular clump of earth with a diameter of nearly 50". Any roots that came out beyond this clump were chopped, there were only 4 that were chopped all having a diameter of less than the thickness of my little finger.

The burberis was then supported to stop it from falling over and falling into its own hole as we carefully excavated the root ball. These same horizontal timbers that helped to support the burberis were left in place and used to help us lift and move the burberis into its new location without us getting prickled to death and of course this meant that the root system wouldn't get damaged either. The careful excavation of the remaining clump didn't take long, 3 people a good couple of hours.  The plants root system was small and very simple with very little damage, no tap root at all and a very shallow root system.

When moved it was again supported so that when the hole was filled in the roots  would end up fairly close to the same depth they were previously.

The hole was then filled with a mixture comprising of its original topsoil, a humus rich compost mixed together with a full bag of bonemeal. As the hole was filled rootgrow was sprinkled over the roots prior to being covered. We then pruned the top back quite hard before it was foliar fed with a mixture of water and Phostrogen.

Hope it survives!




Nice job Mark

I hope it will be happy in its new home

Jim Macd

It looks very happy in it's new home and I think it was worth the effort. The first photo you took really didn't do it justice. This is just my personal taste but I'd like to see some of those nice big chunky roots showing above the ground a bit. I am very chuffed for you though.


 I'd like to see some of those nice big chunky roots showing above the ground a bit.

Just the angle of the final photograph.

The chunky roots are still above ground and the original hole underneath is still there too. The burberis is still supported and will probably remain that way for at least 6 months or even longer. I am expecting the soil level to settle down some and because the burberis is being held firm, it itself wont sink as the soil settles.  The theory being that more of the chunky roots will expose themselves as the next few months progress.

We are expecting a shed load of rain over the weekend! which I think will cause a fair amount of settlement.

Just a theory.

Jim Macd

Not more rain!? Well, you've done a great job, I'm sure you won't need all that support for too long but it won't hurt and would be a shame if something did go wrong. I planted a much taller pear with much less root than that without so much as a degree of leaning. I'm sure you will because you've done a great job but keep it well watered for the next year, even if it has rained. But don't worry about feeding it anymore. Just let it settle in, but do keep it weed free while it settles back in. 


Congratulations!  A job really well done!!!  However, I think you'll need to stake it it for at least 12 months  as it's quite top heavy and in a strong wind ..............

What an interesting project I also have a berberis to move! It is growing beside a rhododendron . I want to leave the rhode in place  and dig the berberis out is now a good time? 

For all those interested, this berberis at the mo looks very very very dead at the moment, no new growth at all and all leaves have dried right back.

But not giving up yet, i'll wait until mid summer 2015 before I dig it up and plant a replacement.