On the move…

House buyers who fall in love with the garden at their new address had better beware – chances are it could be stripped bare before they move in. And it’s not always thieves to blame but the previous occupants who feel their carefully nurtured plants are ‘part of the family’ and don’t want to leave them behind.

Researchers have found a huge increase in so-called ‘garden grabbing’ – where people load garden plants into their removal vans alongside their furniture when they move house.

The top five plants to be taken are Japanese maples, magnolia, roses, snowdrops and topiary. Sentimentality is a key factor in people digging up favourite plants and taking them with them when moving. Other plants destined for a spot in the new garden are ones that were planted for the births of children and the milestones in their family life such as commemorate the life of a close one who has since died.

If you are moving out of your happy home, it is possible to relocate some of your dearest plants to your new house if it is done at the right time and with the right amount of attention. Of course, you will have to make sure that whoever wants to purchase your home is okay with you taking a little bit of your garden with you as the plants in your garden are classed within the fixtures and fittings list that you provide to your buyers before exchange.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot take your plants but for clarity, it’s advisable to provide a list of the items that will be removed from the garden. This way your buyers will be fully aware of what is included in the garden before the contract is signed and exchanged. After this, the law assumes the garden will remain as your buyers saw it when they made an offer, so removing anything after this time could result in legal action against you.

A major consideration for when ‘moving’ your garden is to check that your new location is suitable for your plants. For example, if moving from south to north you should bear in mind that some plants such as fig trees may not grow successfully in the north and would be better left behind for the new buyers to enjoy

It’s best to move herbaceous perennials during the early spring and autumn when temperatures are not overly warm. The hot summer months, when weather is dry, are the worst times to attempt relocating them as plants become quickly stressed when dug up during this time. It is best wait until the winter to move trees and shrubs, so make sure you dig up and pot up plants early in the year, so you are prepared in advance and maybe fill the gaps with some seasonal bedding for the buyers to enjoy.

Be sure to get as much root as possible when digging up plants – the soil will help to protect the plants during the move. Place plants in pots with plenty of room, and be sure that the soil is kept amply moist. You can wrap roots of large plants, shrubs and trees in hessian and keep the rootball moist if you go about replanting as soon as possible. And if you are moving in cold weather use bubble wrap or old sheets for added insulation against frost.

Better still take cuttings from a well-established plants, rather than removing them entirely. Doing this means that both you and your buyer get to enjoy the plant and it will also reduce the risk of any plant not surviving being moved and transplanted.

Check the orientation of your new garden to see whether it is facing in the same direction as your current garden

If your new garden is facing in the opposite direction, such as south facing instead of north facing, this may also have some bearing on plants which can successfully be transplanted – a prized Hydrangea for example will prefer a north facing border and will struggle in left in an overly bright south facing garden.

The week before the big day, if you can, start moving all outside plants and garden furniture into a dry area like the garage to give them chance to dry out and stay dry for moving day. After all, your garden furniture and plants are placed onto the van with your other household furniture and you probably wouldn’t want them to become wet and dripping all over, your other items.

If you think moving home is stressful for you and your family, remember that it’s even more stressful for any plants you are transporting! Any such plants will need extra care and attention for at least a year after the move, although the time scale will vary depending on individual varieties.

Take note that removal companies will always endeavor to handle your plants with great care, but because plants are living creatures they will NOT be covered under any insurance policy. You’ll fine that liability for loss or damage is probably excluded under their terms and conditions. You can find details in the small print, which is usually found on the back of the acceptance forms that you will have received.

Once you arrive at your destination, find the plants a spot so that you can check them for damage. Snip off broken leaves or branches using a clean pair of garden pruners

Ideally get the plants into their new home as quickly as possible. It is best to transplant early in the morning on an overcast day, especially in the summer months. If you too busy to plant straight away, then dig a hole and cover plants with bare roots. Some plants don’t like certain types of soil. If you are not sure, you can purchase a pH kit from most garden centres and this will tell you if the soil is acidic or alkaline. Camellias and rhododendrons abhor the slightest hint of lime! So if the new garden doesnt have acid soil then keep the plants in pots or build some raised beds. Water potted plants each week and if they are to remain the pots for some time give them a weekly dose of half strength liquid fertiliser right through until autumn.

New transplants require tender loving care. Be sure to provide plenty of water. If you transplant during a hot period, plants will most likely experience a shock and may wilt. If you can, protect transplants from the hot sun while they establish by putting down a 10cm layer of mulch, which will help to retain moisture around the roots.

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