Transplanting Mature Rhododendrons

Hadley, MA, Shattuck Rd.

We moved ten rhododendrons as part of a large project in Hadley, MA. The project also consisted of tree care (pruning, cabling, fertilizing, and hazard tree removals), as well as garden restoration (weeding, planting, edging, composting, and mulching).

The client purchased the house over a decade ago, when the rhododendrons were already outgrowing their space as foundation plantings. While some shrubs are suitable for planting close to the house, a shrub that wants to grow 15’ by 15’ will only cause future problems. The client was forced multiple times a year to shear the shrubs so that they would not subsume the lawn, house, and one another. Compounding her problem was the fact that they were planted in direct sun and were under the house’s eave, where sliding snow occasionally crushed them.

I suggested to the client that we move the shrubs to a shady void that would create privacy from the neighbor while eliminating the shrub-lawn-house conflict. The space left by the rhododendrons will be planted this spring. A mixture of ornamental grasses, spring flowering bulbs, and native perennials is anticipated.


Twenty-year-old rhododendrons prepped for transplanting. This “prepping” included: root pruning ahead of time, tying up & pruning. These three steps will aid in a successful transplanting. The shrubs do not look as old as they actually are because they have been “bonsai” for the last few decades.Rhododendrons before transplanting.


Each shrub was moved with a 6’ diameter rootball weighing approximately 1250 pounds. A tractor would be needed to successfully move shrubs of this size. Mats are always put down to avoid collateral damage to the lawn.Transplanting a mature rhododendron rootball with a tractor.


The area to be planted is prepped ahead of time. This prepping includes the: ph modifications, addressing fertility requirements and digging the hole (8’x8’x 18” deep).
Large holes were dug for the rhododendrons


The shrubs coming to their new home. This area has: better soil, shade, and more room to grow than their last location.Rhododendrons transplanted and holes filled in.

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