Monday, May 6, 2013

Do I Have To? Move a Shrub

Welcome to On the Doorstep's very first outdoor "Do I Have To?" the monthly segment where I tackle a home improvement chore that makes me whine.

I've been irritated since we moved into the house by a shrub planted right by the front door. Let me correct that. I'm not irritated by the shrub. It's a "Limelight" hydrangea, and during the summer she looks a lot like this:

Source: University of Georgia Extension Services
She is just fine and pretty when in bloom. It's where she was planted that's irritating.

According to landscape guidelines, foundation shrubs, trees, and plants should be planted a distance from the house that coincides with their full-grown size. If you look up the info on "Limelight," they are about 6 feet in diameter when full grown. That means it needs to be planted at least 3 feet from a foundation or fence, plus a little extra for air circulation.

So where was our Limelight planted?

About 8 inches from the brick:

She was planted smack up against the foundation, in the corner by the front deck. Irritating. When it rained her wet foliage was up against the wood siding, and in the winter her branches knocked against the house, right outside a bedroom window. Really irritating.

I wasn't looking forward to the job because I had no idea how big of a root ball was under this thing, and after my adventures removing maiden grass last year (see this post), I dreaded the possibility of wrestling for hours with a stubborn piece of plant life. But we'd had a rainy week the second week in April, followed by a sunny Saturday. I wanted to seize the opportunity to do the digging while the ground was soft.

I started by raking away a layer of pea gravel. Then I excavated around and as far under the root ball as I could. It looked like roots were pretty shallow, and with a lot of horizontal roots just under the soil. I don't know if that's the way these shrubs are, a sign of not enough deep watering, or a sign of being in too constricted of a space. This took about ten minutes of digging, though it doesn't look like much in the photo.

There are no pictures of the next part, because it involved me giving the branches a gigantic bear hug and bending them out of the way with my whole body, while Grant trenched out more with the spade so we could pull her loose. This is what we ended up with after fifteen minutes of further digging.  Readers can also see that we have yet to do the landscaping across the front gable of the front of the house, so-- weeds, sump drainage hose, landscape pavers and other ugliness: 

(My house's normally awful beige color looks even worse in this photo. Hurray! Not.)

See? Root ball, not that big:

After backfilling the hole, Grant made a fresh start in a new location:

Here's "Limelight" in her new location. It's now a generous 3 1/2 feet from the foundation and the porch, so she shouldn't cause any trouble with either. She looks a lot less cramped, and has more room to grow: 

Even with all the rain we've had, I gave her a good slow drink:

Here's a photo to give readers a little comparison. The big red "X" marks the shrub's previous location.

I'm glad to have this task out of the way. I think I may have dreaded it all out of proportion to what it ended up being, but you never know until it's over. I'll consider myself lucky.

It gets a major item out of the way for landscaping the front foundation. We've come a long way from this: 

To this: 

And this: 

We'll be thrilled to reclaim a little more territory for the bees, birds, and butterflies!

1 comment:

  1. Moving shrubs is no fun! We had some huge azaleas--which I like a lot when they are small and organic-shaped. Ours were huge and hedge-shaped. Last summer we thought we'd just get rid of them. Hah!

    We dug and dug and dug, but the root balls were huge! Finally realized we'd need to rent large equipment to get rid of them. One we didn't kill, but the others did. We're just putting our vegetable garden right over them. Hope that works.

    I really like these posts. Gives me some motivation for my own "do I have to?" projects.