transplanting emerald cedars

The summer before last I planted some emerald cedars (about 3 feet tall) in my backyard. Alas, being fairly inexperienced, only later did I realize that this might have been a poor choice of shrub/bush for my garden. I already lost one of the bushes last summer, and now am seeing a few of the other bushes developing similar symptoms. I want to transplant the bushes to a better location, so I'm looking for advice on how to best do this to maximize the chance of the bushes' survival.
Some info: - I live in Toronto, Ontario - the ground is aweful: about a foot down from the surface it is all clay... rock solid when dry, and nearly impervious to water when it's raining - that means that when it rains the water doesn't really sink deep down, but rather is trapped in the one foot (or less!) of soil between surface and clay, and furthermore, when it drains downhill, it tends to accumulate in the soil-filled holes in which the cedars were planted; after a heavy rain it is quite common for there to be standing water in the valleys of the backyard - as recommened by the planting instructions, the earth around the cedars has been covered by about 1" or 2" of mulch; I think this just made things worse as it prevented any water accumulation from evaporating... - in fact, the cedars ended up growing roots in the mulch... I suspect some of them have survived only because of this...
Hence what happens is that the roots rot, the foliage goes, and it's a downward spiral from there. I'm starting to notice the tell tale signs now on some of the other cedar bushes: brown and dying branches. Sure enough the earth is very moist, and the mulch has been hiding some standing water after a recent heavy rain.
To try to rescue the plants I want to move them to a different location which is uphill and has a significant slope (i.e., draining). What precautions can I take to ensure highest chance of success? Best time of day, weather conditions for this? Should I allow the rootball to dry out first before replanting? Heavy or light on the fertilizer when replanted? What to do about the mulch-entangled roots, the ones which might be the healthiest on the plants?
Any suggestion and advice would be most appreciated by this gardening newbie...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
1. The tree must be planted at the same depth as it was originally growing so dig the hole roughly 6 - 10 inches wider than the rootball. Dig only 2" deeper than the overall height of the rootball replacing with a 2" layer of peatmoss.
2. Backfill the hole up 2/3rds with a 50/50 peatmoss and soil mix, firming around the base then finish with topsoil.
3. Create a "well" around the tree with soil to allow water to pool, ensuring ample moisture will penetrate the root zone. I like to dissolve 1 lb of Espoma "holly tone" or "tree and shrub" food in a 5 gal pail of water to jump start the tree.
4. Cover with mulch to retain moisture.
I would recommend to keep as many roots as possible and allow the tree to decide which ones it wants to keep as it will be under enough stress of transplanting.
Good Luck!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.