Moving your garden

The offer’s been accepted and the paperwork and packing are underway… but moving house can mean more than organising what’s inside your home: outside space, features and prize plants also need consideration. So what do you need to know about moving your garden?

As a seller:

  • Ideally, identifying which garden plants and items you will be taking with you before you put your property on the market will mean you can inform any Estate Agents as well as prospective purchasers clearly about what’s staying and what’s coming with you. Although knowing this from the outset isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker in negotiations, clarity is always better than misunderstandings about whether a shed, greenhouse or summerhouse is included in the property listing.
  • If you’re an absolute enthusiast about your garden and are particularly concerned about established trees or shrubs you will want to take with you, it’s worth knowing that there is an optimum time to move, depending on plant types:
    • Evergreens: are best moved in early autumn (October in the UK) or early spring (March) as soil needs to be already warming up when you transplant, to offer the plants the best possible chance to re-establish.
    • Deciduous plants: most deciduous (leaf-dropping) plants are dormant during that October to March season and can be more successfully moved over this time.
  • Ensure that you fully complete all the relevant sections of the Seller’s Property Information Form and the Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form to reflect exactly which garden items, including structures, major plants, ornamental features, pots and garden furniture will be staying at the property. For clarity, consider appending a list of the items that will be taken with you, if there is insufficient space for detail on the form. This way your purchasers are fully aware of what is included in the contract prior to exchange so that there are no last minute anxieties about whether the shed, bird bath or ornamental herb planters are staying or going.
  • It’s worth knowing that if you don’t give confirmation about the garden’s fixtures, fittings and garden features before the contract is signed and exchanged, then 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.
  • Where plants are concerned, most varieties become “well-established” within just a couple of years. If you have any plants you are particularly sentimental about, double check which will need to be dug up for transplanting and which ones thrive better from taking cuttings. Taking cuttings from a well-established plant, rather than removing it entirely, means that both yourselves and the purchaser get to enjoy the plant and reduces the risk of the plant not surviving being transplanted.
  • Shrubs, for example lilac bushes, will need a little more care when taking cuttings, as you will need to slice off new shoots, including a section of root. Take care not to damage the main root ball and always make good any area of ground you have disturbed, so that you are leaving both the plant and the garden in the best possible condition for your purchasers.
  • Check which of your well-established plants are drop-seed varieties. These plants literally drop their seeds, which will grow once planted. If you time a move right, you can often find ready-grown seedlings in your borders, ready to pop into pots and transplant once you reach your next home.
  • To maximise the chances of successful transplanting, keep roots protected at all times and do not allow them to dry out.
  • Raised beds are highly popular and many gardens now feature these. Ensure that you have decided if you are going to be moving any and include this in the list for the contract. Dismantle these in plenty of time and make good any areas of garden left behind.
  • Great care needs to be taken if you are removing any tree (even if it is in a pot). Ensure that your removal company, as well as your purchasers, know that the tree is being moved, especially if the tree is a particularly heavy item which may need special lifting and transportation arrangements.

As a buyer:

  • Double check the location to help you decide which plants you might want to take with you, particularly if your new home is in a completely different part of the UK. For instance, 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.
  • Similarly, check the orientation of your new garden to see whether it is facing in the same direction as your current garden. If it’s facing in the opposite direction to your current one, 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 wall and will struggle in left in an overly bright south facing garden.

Finally, 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. To help things along, ensure you have plenty of fertiliser and, although you’ll be busy settling into the house, make time to prioritise your plants and make the most of optimum weather conditions for transplanting, to help your plants to settle into their new home too!

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