Can't figure out what these shrubs are & if worth to relocate

agurkas(5)June 17, 2014

We bought the house with entire perimeter covered by these trees. I don't know what the heck previous owner was thinking, but inspector said we should not wait to remove them, because they are bad for foundation, are attracting bugs into the house, and blocking windows.

What are these shrubs and will they survive being moved to another spot on our property or should I just rip them out and discard?

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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

They're rhododendrons!
You can shorten them or prune them as if they were small trees and look through them. Do a little of both and get creative.
They don't attract bugs and they won't harm your foundation. Your inspector doesn't know what he's talking about.
They are valuable shrubs and shouldn't be thrown away. They can be moved in the Fall or Spring if that's what you decide to do.
Mike.....with a large garden full of them.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:24PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)


Can be very attractive as small, multi-stem trees.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

nonsense ...

they are CHEAP plants ... cut the to the ground.. and treat the stump and be done with them ...

the base issue is that the prior owner.. bought a cute little plant.. and had no concept that they could live forever.. and were trees.. when they planted them 2 feet from the house ...

there are dwarf varieties ...

i seem to think this was in the NE forum ... and i tried to express the same sentiment ... and the other peeps want you to move 10 foot plants.. crikey whats that all about... i work smart.. trying not to work hard.. and dont let any of them give you some GUILT COMPLEX ... over these .. they are a dime a dozen.. not some rare one of a kind plant..

this is the front of your new house... do you really want to live in a bug infested jungle... i think not..

in fact.. i would respond to the inspection by telling the owner .. if there is one.. that its a done deal.. as soon as these plants are removed ... as i would do with a half dead tree overhanging the house ... its called a bargaining chip ....

this is a house.. not a museum.. you do not have to cope with the prior owners history of idiotic choices ...

most peeps plan on redoing the carpet.. or the kitchen ... you need to think about redoing the landscape .. and you will start.. by getting rid of this nightmare .... its all part of the equation of buying a new home.. and good luck with that


    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:59AM
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I personally...would look them over. Get an overall feel for what YOUR goal is for the curb appeal to your home. If it's not to your liking...then remove. I do prefer them pruned into a tree form though. So...if one is placed right...and you are able to treat one as a tree. Chopping down the rest. That also might work. But...then your dealing with roots entangled with ones you wish to remove under ground. But...ones maybe able to give you better direction on that. A mature rhodie is a beautiful my opinion. But to much of a good thing can be bothersome. I would choose if possible one to keep removing the rest. Making a tree form.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:17AM
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Like I mentioned in NE forum, since it seems like it is very easy (compared to deep-rooted trees) to relocate them, that is the route I will take. I have an acre and plenty of spots would love to see those growing. Easy peasy. Just a little sweat equity.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:21AM
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I guess what I would do, not knowing all that much about how rhododendrons respond, is cut them back to about knee high and see if they re-sprout to a much lower level. Some of these overgrow their more natural size if let go for too many years. I have a couple of Miss Kim lilacs that have done that to me and now instead of 4 to 5 ft tall are over 10 and are going to get cut back hard very soon now that their bloom is over.

Moving mature rhododendrons or any shrub that size is far more of a job than it looks like. Odds are against a tyro being successful even on smaller ones than these; so I would expect any labor spent on moving them to be wasted.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:35AM
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Actually, rhododendrons are extremely easy to relocate. They have a very flat, shallow root system and even with quite large mature ones, it's a bit like flipping a pancake out of the ground. Can be heavy but if you lever them out onto a tarp or similar, easy to drag to new location. Have moved many during my gardening career. And if care is taken with the process, they respond to this beautifully.

And to contrast to Ken's opinion, mature rhodies are NOT cheap plants. Rhodies are the state flower here and every nursery sells them and believe me, they are not cheap, especially ones of any size.

It is also good know that rhodies have dozens of adventitious buds located all over the stems under the bark. Pruning them hard will stimulate these buds into growth so one can easily rejuvenate an older overgrown or leggy shrub. They won't look too great for a season or two but will eventually resume their former glory.

And just to repeat what Mike said, their roots will not disturb anything - foundation, walkway, patio, etc., and they do not attract insects. One of the least offensive shrubs (not trees!!) I can think of for foundation plantings.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:41PM
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davids10 z7a nv.

does anyone else think ken adrian is the biggest jerk in the world?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:03PM
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Nope!! Just a little opinionated, which is fine. And rather entertaining as well. But certainly not overtly rude or nasty............unlike some others I could mention.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Ken has given me great advice...the thing with a one takes the advice that fits them. Not necessarily all the advice given. That would be impossible.

Calling one out on a done in poor taste. Just saying...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:20PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Lets hope your home inspector gave you better advice on the home itself.... ;)

He doesn't know plants.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Who do you think I will listen to. Forum of strangers or someone who is licensed, insured, and has been doing inspection longer than some of you have been alive?

Shrubs are moving and I think they may like their new spot more anyway. NE forum has been very helpful, since they focused on how to do it right.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 7:52PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

There are good inspectors and not so good, just as with any profession.

Not that I am saying your inspector was necessarily bad other than his telling you your rhododendrons could in any way threaten your foundation (completely wrong type root system for that), I actually had meant the comment about the house itself somewhat lightly.

You really can trust anything Botann or Gardengal would tell you about growing, care of, and moving rhododendrons, there really is nothing about them they couldn't help you with.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:36PM
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I had a licensed, insured, experienced inspector/appraiser tell my bank that my home was a "manufactured home" ie a trailer, when I was trying to refinance. Simply because it was on a pile/post foundation. He couldn't have been more wrong. Just sayin'.

I wish I could ever grow my rhododendron to that large and healthy state. Glad to hear that you are saving yours!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:53PM
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I know when you buy a new home you are excited and want to put your stamp on the home.
I also understand that you have no idea what those shrubs are. You probably wouldnt have even cared about them til the inspector, who doesn't like Rhodos happened to mention the trees to you.
First of all, trees and shrubs, ANY trees and shrubs today, even when little, are EXPENSIVE.
Mature trees and shrubs are priced so high, unless you are very wealthy and can spend many hundreds up to thousands of dollars on mature shrubs, that if I were you,
I would WAIT at least 1 YEAR before you start ripping anything out.
I am sure that you will have enough to do inside the house before you start ripping out the landscaping. Wait one year, after you have lived in the house for a while, walk around and start to notice what landscaping plants are planted where.
When the Rhods bloom next May, you may change your mind about those trees and shrubs.
Oh, by the way, they are also evergreen, which is awesome, no bare twigs in the winter up next to your home.
Please, visit a local nursery as soon as you have a chance, and price out some shrubs and see how small they are.
If you see the prices, (which will shock you), you won't dig up any Rhods this year, you will wait to see them bloom next year. LOL!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

People that moved into the place to the south of me rather soon took out the decades old Oregon grape hedge: "We don't like Oregon grape!".

When some seedlings generated by the hedge that had come up on my place bloomed the following spring they didn't know what they were.

Many years later they have still not really come up with any kind of a substantial planting to replace the Oregon grape hedge.

And now they are putting up a fence because they think what I do with my place is obnoxious.

If you are itching to cut the rhododendrons down - but will be letting them grow back - do it right away, as they have already been growing for awhile this spring, will need time to react to the hard pruning and make some replacement growth before fall comes.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:33PM
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If it brings you peace of mind...move your shrubs. Glad to hear that your not tossing them out. We had a huge one near a cottage we purchased. Tree form which I stated I loved. When my husband started digging to transplant it to our own yard, he gave up. Not saying it can't be done. But a mature rhodie has a good size width span at least ours had. It's still in the same place it was prior to our attempt to transplant.

But, I still would ask about how to go about the roots that will be joined together being so close as they are. Do you sacrifice a few to allow some to have larger roots by un disturbing them by allowing the shrub beside it to be sacrificed raking it's roots along with the one you are keeping?Or will they survive the chopping to separate? Or how exactly is that done...

Good luck...maybe have a few friends over for a cookout to have extra hands to help along with the process.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:40PM
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This shot is so so, to show the scale of how much the schrubs are covering the windows and how close they are to the house, but when I went back there today with the window guy, I realized that looking through the windows is all I see - rhododendrons. Two rooms have zero view, because the shrubs are covering the view all the way to the top.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:48PM
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Yep...looks similar in height as the one I always admired at the cottage we now own. It's been there for years. Yours actually has some space it seems... ours has no space between the house and shrub. How many in a row do you have there? Not saying it can't be husband was like...I will take you to the nursery you can buy any shrub/tree there instead.

We have intentions of remodeling the cottage. That day comes...with machinery...I won't let them rip it out without trying to spare it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Good question. Shrubs are so dense, I need to go under there and figure the heck out how many I got. They cover about 35 feet of the house perimeter, so got to be couple of them. I am getting a feeling former owner had fondness for this type of plant, because I am finding them everywhere. Heck, there are some in the wooded part of the property. Just much younger.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Got a dry basement? If so then no need to be in any emergency hurry to deal with these shrubs.

Opening up the view from the windows is an important concern, since that will increase the natural light but with that will increase heating from the sunshine, possibly requiring additional air conditioning. For security and privacy as well you do not want screened outside access to your ground floor windows either.

If those are rhododendrons blooming in the background of that last picture, you can see how cutting back the leggy ones can be done to produce a much shorter shrub, since it looks like there is very similar bloom on both a high and a low level. If you can get enough low level branching, you may very easily be able to keep those rhododendrons at or below window height. Looks like that has been applied to some of them already. That's what I would try first and then only where the windows need to be opened up. "Savagely" cut them back to about a third to no more than half the height you eventually want them, and do it now so breaking buds will have enough time to mature enough to survive the coming winter.

You will want as many stem buds to break as possible as low as possible or all you will get is a return to legginess. It would probably be a good idea to count on going back in next year and shortening the new growth so that it branches, too. After that all you should really need is a little touch up type of maintenance. Be a bit less "savage" on the lateral branches than on the uprights.

Too many rhododendrons is not a problem we have here in Minnesota. We are either too far north and so too harsh or too far west and so too arid for most of them to even be native around here much less do well when introduced. We also tend to have too high pH soil.

I sorta envy the problem you have. I have one little, scrawny PJM that has been in place since the 80's, and that is all I have been able to keep.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 5:21AM
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