Try a Little Tenderness

Try a Little Tenderness

When someone moves into a new home, they tend to have a smoother, more successful transition when they plan ahead and carefully move through each step. This includes thoughtfully packing boxes beforehand in an organized fashion, clearly labeling the boxes so movers put them in their proper rooms and then unpacking them so everything that is removed is unwrapped and put into its place to avoid rework.

If this works for your most delicate China place settings and Lenox crystal, you can see why it would make all the difference when moving something as large, yet just as delicate, as a tree.

When it's a big, valuable tree that provides numerous benefits to your landscape and your family, a "move" is much more than just picking it up and placing it in its new location. To preserve the numerous benefits trees provide to a community and its residents, which The National Tree Benefits Calculator can help determine, one must plan carefully - before, during and after the big move - to ensure survival.

"When transplanting a tree, its survival rate increases or decreases in proportion with how well it's taken care of," explains Dan Howse, landscape architect, Davey Resource Group Land Development Solutions.

Dan Howse

Basically, when a tree is moved, it naturally goes into shock and needs intensive care to ensure it emerges from this transplant shock unscathed. The aftercare of a transplanted tree will vary depending on the size and species.

Some of the tips Howse lives by when he oversees the move of large trees include:

  • Watering the tree sufficiently before the move. This could be a few days or as long as one month beforehand.
  • Conducting root pruning in advance (sometimes up to one year in advance, depending on tree size and job parameters). Proper root ball sizing will help to ensure a smooth adaptation to the tree's new environment.
  • Paying attention to soil types in both the original location and the new location, and making any changes necessary to replicate the tree's familiar environment, can aid survival, as well.
  • Irrigation after the move is essential once the tree is planted in its final location, and the addition of a drainage system and site tubes to monitor the subsurface water is also recommended. 
  • Moving the tree at the right time of year for the species and location - usually early spring or fall - is also important, particularly in an urban environment. In cities, trees are usually susceptible to more heat and traffic, so extra measures focused on proper care can ensure trees best adapt to their new homes.
Transplanting in action: Large tree moving at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Davey is no stranger to moving large trees. Davey was featured on the Discovery Channel's "Really Big Things (check out part one and part two)." In the video, host Matt Rogers (of American Idol fame) gives a play-by-play of the action as one of Davey's experts runs a state-of-the-art tree spade, calling the shots on a big tree installation. Davey's large tree moving skills have also been featured on the History Channel's "Yard Tech." And if you want to hear the details of large tree moving straight from Howse himself, Davey also offers a video on the topic. The professionals at Environmental Design, Inc., a Davey partner company, are also experts at moving large trees. Learn about some of their work at the 9/11 Memorial and other sites, or learn more by reviewing their answers to frequently asked large tree moving questions.

So, next time you realize you need to make some adjustments to your landscape, and it requires moving one of your beloved trees - even if it's one of the strongest trees, even if it's the mighty oak itself - think of your trees like that tiny glass tea set of your grandmother's or your porcelain collectibles. What really makes an oak mighty - particularly when you're moving it into a new home - is tender, loving care.

  • esmondperry January 10, 2014 >Nice post and I like the video...!!! Thanks for sharing...!!!
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