Air tool transplant challenge — excavate and move
October 30, 2009 by Deborah Howe
Mike Furgal sent me photos of an 8″ caliper Weeping White Pine that he moved a couple of weeks ago, remarking that this tree, though relatively small, was the most challenging tree he’s moved bare-root.
The tree was situated in a small berm next to a house and a driveway, and shared the bed with a 7′ Hinoki Cypress and an 8′ Blue Holly. Mike blew soil out of the entire bed to move all three plants, whose roots were interwoven.
Pine roots running toward the house and drive extended no more than three feet. Roots running under the lawn told a different story; the two main roots that Mike found were 16-18 feet in length; they had plenty of moisture available and plenty of rooting room to grow.
Mike began work on the bed by blowing soil at the tree’s dripline and at its root collar, to assess where the roots were. He found that they ran along the edge of the bed until they hit the house; from that point they grew out into the lawn.
Here are his photos:
Rooting space is constrained by the berm's proximity to the house and the driveway.
Ample lawn space gives plenty of rooting opportunity in other directions.
Lots of roots here -- note how they run along what had been the bed edge, and extend back toward the house. Once they hit the house, they then ran out into the lawn.
Here's what the excavated bed looked like, with Hinoki Cypress, Blue Holly, and Weeping White Pine roots woven together.
Tremendous root extension can be kept with air-tool excavating, and while not all fine roots remain, a significant number of them do.
The Pine ready for its move. These lawn-side roots are sixteen to eighteen feet long. Compare that root length to the accepted standard size of a B&B root ball, which allows ten inches of root-mass diameter for one inch of trunk caliper. For an apples to apples comparison, if we include the three feet of root on the tree's other side, this tree has 19 to 21 feet of root extension, as opposed to the 6-foot, 8-inch root mass diameter you would see on a B&B specimen.
Moving the excavated pine was the trickiest part. Mike and his helper used a Bobcat and a Dingo -- tricky to coordinate both machines at once.
Closeup of the two monster roots extending away from the house and drive.
Anyone else reminded of a bride with a really long train? One major difference: a bride doesn't require this kind of machinery to move around.
The pine moving to its new home on the other side of the house.
I’ll post photos of the tree in its new location shortly.
Arborist: Mike Furgal, Furgal Tree and Landscape, Northborough, MA