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We have built up a well-established garden but are now moving. What can we legally take and what should we leave behind

01:00 Thu 03rd Jan 2002 |

A.� A beautiful and well-maintained garden is often one of the major selling points for potential buyers. In such cases chances are that the owners have loving tended and planted it over the years and will find it a real wrench to leave it behind.

There are a few documented cases of the new owners turning up only to find the garden they looked forward to enjoying so much has been striped bare, trees and all, but in fact this is against the law.

As it stands anything that is planted in the ground when a deal is formalised becomes part of the property's fixtures and fittings and should remain where they are. The same goes for structures such as sheds and pergolas.

Pots and containers are not considered as permanent fixtures and are yours to take with you.

Q.� But what if there is a particular tree or shrub that has great monetary or financial value. Is there any way round this

A. There are a number of things you can do. The first is to transplant or pot up the plant when you first realise you are going to move but before you start showing round prospective buyers. This can present problems if it is a large specimen, too big to put in a pot and you don't already have a new garden to put it in.

The second option is to actually include plants in the list of fixtures and fittings you will be taking with you as part of the contract between yourselves and the purchaser.

But more often than not it is possible to come to an informal arrangement if you explain what you want to take with you and why. It may be a tree or shrub planted to commemorate a birth or a death and most people will be happy to let you move it, especially if you offer to replace it with a new smaller specimen.

Q.� When should you move plants

A.� The ideal times to move most plants are early spring or the autumn when they are dormant and not about to flower.

However, very few of us have the luxury of dictating when we move house according to the needs of our plants. Again, if you can plan ahead and start containerising your favourites before the house goes on the market, do it.

If you've got a specimen that just doesn't enjoy being moved such as ceanothus, eucalyptus or holly, it is better to leave it where it is happy than risk killing it by moving it. No one benefits if that happens so take cuttings in good time and enjoy watching them establish in your new garden.

If you have to move in high summer make sure you keep any newly transplanted material well watered before, during and after the move. If you are moving in winter make sure you get as much of the rootball as possible and keep big specimens tightly packed in moist compost. Alternatively ask if you can come back when the weather has improved.

Q.� What sort of practical measures can you take to protect plants and equipment during the move

A.� Although most house movers are used to moving plants, it is well worth wrapping terracotta and clay pots in bubble-wrap or a piece of old carpet to stop them breaking or chipping in the van.

Spiky plants like cordylines or yuccas can be tied up with soft string so that the outer leaves shield the young growth inside. Bushy leafy plants with flexible stems like bamboos can be tied up around a pole and then wrapped in bubble wrap or cling-film while smaller perennials and rhizomous plants can be potted up and put into sealed boxes, perhaps packed with newspaper or straw to stop them rattling around and getting tipped over.

If you've got a question about your home or garden, click here.

By Tom Gard

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