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Posts Tagged ‘innovative arboriculture’

For those of you checking out this blog for the air-tool transplanting posts, you may find it helpful to read the comments on those posts for more information…And if you’re a landscape architect or arborist and have observations, questions, comments, please feel free to submit them in the comment box as well. This technology and its applications are so new that the more good information gets exchanged, the better.

Lots of root mass.  Irrigation lines run through it; they are cut during the trenching process, and then pulled out in feet-long lengths once enough soil has been blown away from the roots.

Lots of root mass. Irrigation lines run through it; they are cut during the trenching process, and then pulled out in feet-long lengths once enough soil has been blown away from the roots.

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The project showcased in the last post continued this week, with the bare-root transplanting of five London Plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) and a mature crabapple. Again, Matthew R. Foti Landscape and Tree Service was the prime arborist on this site in a Boston suburb — but this week the Foti crew was joined by Mike Furgal, who was the first arborist to use the air tool for bare-rooting trees in this way.

Mike has been doing this work a bit over five years, and his expertise was the basis for the bare-root workshop sponsored by the Massachusetts Arborists Association and hosted by Matt last August. Neither arborist had moved this many trees of this size — the London Planes ranged from 11 inches dbh to 13″ dbh — and in teaming up they brought all their knowledge to bear to the challenges of this particular project. (The homeowner figured she had hired the A team, given the pair’s depth of knowledge and breadth of experience.)

I took a lot of photos during the first day, and returned today to shoot more. My colleague Bruce Jones and I also shot extensive videotape of the process, which is currently in editing, and will explain the sequence of bare-root transplanting using compressed air (watch this blog for word that it’s done and available).

To avoid computer-use burnout (mine), I’m posting one batch of photos today, and will add another post with more in a few days. I promise, this first batch of images will be plenty to digest for a while….

The site before the five London Planes get moved.  The first tree to be excavated and moved is the one furthest from the camera, just to the right of the white trailer.  These trees flanked a driveway; in this photo the driveway asphalt has been taken up and the gravel base has been partially removed.  Trees are located 3-4 feet from the drive edge.

The site before the five London Planes get moved. The first tree to be excavated and moved is the one furthest from the camera, just to the right of the white trailer. These trees flanked a driveway; in this photo the driveway asphalt has been taken up and the gravel base has been partially removed. Trees are located 3-4 feet from the drive edge.


The mini excavator has dug a partial trench; the trench must be dug in sections, or it would be too difficult to reach in and haul out the blown soil.  A climber is in the tree, tying in lines to be used later during transport.

The mini excavator has dug a partial trench; the trench must be dug in sections, or it would be too difficult to reach in and haul out the blown soil. A climber is in the tree, tying in lines to be used later during transport.


Bare-rooting has begun, and one pigtail of roots is already tied to the tree's trunk.  The tree did not extend any roots into the gravel driveway base, so it only has 3-4 feet of root mass on that side.  It did extend its roots out parallel to the driveway, and radially out into the lawn.  A good depth of soil also let it sink its roots quite deep --  2-3 feet -- into the ground.  Mike Furgal is in the green jumpsuit and facemask.

Bare-rooting has begun, and one pigtail of roots is already tied to the tree's trunk. The tree did not extend any roots into the gravel driveway base, so it only has 3-4 feet of root mass on that side. It did extend its roots out parallel to the driveway, and radially out into the lawn. A good depth of soil also let it sink its roots quite deep -- 2-3 feet -- into the ground. Mike Furgal is in the green jumpsuit and facemask.


Pigtailed roots, and short roots along the driveway edge.

Pigtailed roots, and short roots along the driveway edge.


Good deep soil, good deep roots -- everywhere but at the gravel.

Good deep soil, good deep roots -- everywhere but at the gravel.

Lots of activity at the tree:  two air-tool excavators, an mini excavator digging the trench, a Bobcat taking soil away, and Matt Foti assessing progress.

Lots of activity at the tree: two air-tool excavators, an mini excavator digging the trench, a Bobcat taking soil away, and Matt Foti assessing progress.


Blowing out soil, getting closer to the move.

Blowing out soil, getting closer to the move.


Padding the trunk with layers of burlap for the move.

Padding the trunk with layers of burlap for the move.


Giant forks have been run under the tree, and the loader is getting ready to lift it.  Four taglines are visible in this shot; they won't prevent the tree from falling, but help indicate how it is balanced during the move.

Giant forks have been run under the tree, and the loader is getting ready to lift it. Four taglines are visible in this shot; they won't prevent the tree from falling, but help indicate how it is balanced during the move.


Lifting and backing, slowly and very carefully.

Lifting and backing, slowly and very carefully.


A pause for the forks to be positioned more firmly.

A pause for the forks to be positioned more firmly.


Big machine, bigger tree.  The root plate on this tree extended about 18 feet across at its maximum width.  Transporting a large, upright live tree is a slow-speed operation.

Big machine, bigger tree. The root plate on this tree extended about 18 feet across at its maximum width. Transporting a large, upright live tree is a slow-speed operation.


Compare this root plate to that of a B&B tree, or a tree-spaded one (though this tree is too large for a tree spade), and it's clear what an advance this technology promises to be in benefiting the health of trees to be transplanted.  The tree's energy reserves are largely stored in the roots; save the roots, reduce stress on the tree, and speed re-establishment after planting.

Compare this root plate to that of a B&B tree, or a tree-spaded one (though this tree is too large for a tree spade), and it's clear what an advance this technology promises to be in benefiting the health of trees to be transplanted. The tree's energy reserves are largely stored in the roots; save the roots, reduce stress on the tree, and speed re-establishment after planting.


The tree, post-planting.  The arborists assessed how deep the root mass was and how it was formed, and dug the planting hole to accommodate, roughly, its form.  Once the tree is placed in the hole, the roots are spread out radially by hand, and loam shovelled in around, under, and over them.  Watering starts during the digging process, once the tree has been levelled, so that a loam slurry anchors the root plate and tree to its new site.  A well is formed to retain moisture and more water is added.

The tree, post-planting. The arborists assessed how deep the root mass was and how it was formed, and dug the planting hole to accommodate, roughly, its form. Once the tree is placed in the hole, the roots are spread out radially by hand, and loam shovelled in around, under, and over them. Watering starts during the digging process, once the tree has been levelled, so that a loam slurry anchors the root plate and tree to its new site. A well is formed to retain moisture and more water is added.


Two to four inches of mulch is added around the tree, and kept away from the trunk.

Two to four inches of mulch is added around the tree, and kept away from the trunk.


Minor pruning to fix a lamppost-branch conflict.

Minor pruning to fix a lamppost-branch conflict.


The transplanted tree seven hours later, in its new home.

The transplanted tree seven hours later, in its new home.

Matthew R. Foti Landscape and Tree Service, Lexington, MA – lead arborist
Furgal Tree and Landscape, Northborough, MA – consulting arborist
Robert Hanss Inc. Landscape Construction — landscape contractor
Reed Hilderbrand — landscape architects (Chris Moyles, project manager)

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Here’s a series of photos from an air-tool transplant project executed last week by a crew from Matthew R. Foti Landscape and Tree Service of Lexington, MA.These guys have been using air tools to bare-root trees for some time now, and they have refined the process pretty skillfully.

Shown here are a very large treeform Taxus and a smallish Cornus kousa. The Kousa Dogwood had been planted only about 8′ away from the Yew, and probably had been sheltered by it in its early days. At this stage, though, their crowns had been competing, and a revised landscape design gave further reason to spade out and move both plants.

Taxus and Cornus kousa planted closely together, as part of a larger planting that has already been dismantled.

Taxus and Cornus kousa planted closely together, as part of a larger planting that has already been dismantled.

The Bobcat has dug a trench, and the Foti crew is blowing soil into it. Note that the Yew's branches have been tied up to keep them out of the way.

The Bobcat has dug a trench, and the crew is blowing soil into it. Note that the Yew's branches have been tied up to keep them out of the way.

Taxus is a deeply rooted plant -- notice the trench depth, and presence of roots in the lower part of the mound..

Taxus is a deeply rooted plant -- notice the trench depth, and presence of roots in the lower part of the mound..

Soil and rocks fly during the process, so eye and ear protection are essential. The white jumpsuits keep these guys from getting covered with soil (color is optional).

Soil and rocks fly during the process, so eye and ear protection are essential. The white jumpsuits keep these guys from getting covered with soil (color is optional).

Bobcat continually takes blown soil out of the trench and stockpiles it.

Bobcat continually takes blown soil out of the trench and stockpiles it.

Double-teaming a soil clod. Pushing the nozzle down into the root mass helps loosen soil inside it.

Double-teaming a soil clod. Pushing the nozzle down into the root mass helps loosen soil inside it.

Pigtailing the roots -- tying them in long bundles -- helps keep them protected and out of the way.

Pigtailing the roots -- tying them in long bundles -- helps keep them protected and out of the way.

Twine holds the pigtails together; when the plant is ready to move, twine can also be used to tie the pigtails back to the trunk, to keep them from dragging during transport.

Twine holds the pigtails together; when the plant is ready to move, twine can also be used to tie the pigtails back to the trunk, to keep them from dragging during transport.

Progress shot. Look at how deep the trench is. The Taxus is nearly ready, and shortly the crew will move on to the Cornus kousa; when both trees have been blown out, they will be separated and moved to new locations.

Progress shot. Look at how deep the trench is. The Taxus is nearly ready, and shortly the crew will move on to the Cornus kousa; when both trees have been blown out, they will be separated and moved to new locations.

The following week: Taxus in a new spot, looking relaxed and healthy.

The following week: Taxus in a new spot, looking relaxed and healthy.

Final shot. Asymmetry in the Taxus crown reflects its previous location in a larger planting.

Final shot. Asymmetry in the Taxus crown reflects its previous location in a larger planting.

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It was hot enough to be a real beach day….This was the only beech I saw, though.
It was a day for a big air-tool transplant project; three compressors, three guys with air excavating tools, and two 12″ caliper London Plane trees moved bare root. The work will continue through the week — three more London planes and one big crabapple remain to be moved — but today was my day to get out there with a friend and colleague, Bruce Jones, to videotape make still photos of the process. It’s going to take a while to edit the hours of footage we took into a tape; in the meantime I’ll be posting some photos on this site.

So this photo is a diversion. Across the road from the transplant site was an enormous European purple beech, so big it was impossible to photograph in its entirety. My solution? Zoom in and get this shot of a bit of its massive trunk.

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To continue the story from the previous post (check out the photos on that one):

Wednesday, I had to visit Cavicchio’s Greenhouses to tag a tree. Carl and I arranged to meet there, and Carl called to see if Jake Cavicchio could meet us at the little pin oak. We bumped down a back road to the base of a slope, and recognized the tree immediately. It had some deadwood, but had leafed out nicely and seemed to be growing well.

Jake remarked on the deadwood — he said that it had all been there last year, and that this year no more seemed to have developed.

The day after the root-washing, Cavicchio’s had planted in three other pin oaks, similarly root-bound, in the same area. Those three were planted conventionally, their root balls holding the same red clay that had been washed out of the first tree.

The most noticeable difference between the first, root-washed tree and its companions was that the three conventionally planted trees were showing signs of current stress, while the first tree looked fine. Each of the three other trees had foliage sprouting from its trunk, a symptom of stress and an indication that the tree is trying to counteract decline. On the other hand, each of the trees also had similar top growth to the first tree.

It is probably too early to tell what the future will hold for any of these trees — regardless of planting method, the fact that all the trees are now planted out boosts the possibility that they will survive. It seems entirely likely, though, that the tree whose roots were freed from the dense clay soil ball will now encounter less struggle to reestablish a vigorous root system, and that reduced stress for it will mean a healthier prognosis than for the other trees. Take a look at these photos.

Jake Cavicchio and Carl Cathcart with the root-washed pin oak planted last October

Jake Cavicchio and Carl Cathcart with the root-washed pin oak planted last October


Jake with the pin oak he root-washed

Jake Cavicchio with the pin oak he root-washed


Well-structured root flare, at the right grade

Well-structured root flare, at the right grade


Conventionally planted pin oak, planted at the same time as the first tree, showing signs of stress

Conventionally planted pin oak, planted at the same time as the first tree, showing signs of stress


Adventitious buds along the trunk have leafed out, indicating that this conventionally planted oak (which had been balled and burlapped for two years and was unsaleable) is under stress

Adventitious buds along the trunk have leafed out, indicating that this conventionally planted oak (which had been balled and burlapped for two years and was unsaleable) is under stress

Owner: Cavicchio’s Greenhouses, Inc., Sudbury, MA
Arborist: Carl Cathcart, MCA
Tree mover: Jake Cavicchio
Scale figures: Carl Cathcart, Jake Cavicchio

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Carl Cathcart, Consulting Arborist and mentor to any number of Massachusetts arborists, sent me an email a couple of months ago. In it, he told about a pin oak (Quercus palustris) that had been sitting, balled and burlapped, in Cavicchio’s Greenhouses, Inc. for a couple of years. Carl, out at the nursery at the time, heard that Cavicchio’s was planning to send the tree to the dump, and he persuaded Paul Cavicchio to save it, root-wash it, and plant it out.

Jim Flott, of Community Forestry Consultants in Spokane, Washington, had given a workshop on root-washing at the 2007 New England ISA meeting. He distributed this document on root-washing, and — oh, okay, I’ll say it — made a big splash with the arborists, including Carl.

The pin oak presented a good opportunity to see how root-washing might work on an otherwise doomed tree. Jake Cavicchio, Paul’s son, washed the roots with a firehose using 90 pounds of pressure; according to Carl, “The soil was all clay and hard as a rock.” Obviously, the firehose method applied more pressure than what Jim Flott recommends, but in this instance (the tree’s roots were entirely clay-bound, and its options were firehose or trash pile), the firehose was the best solution. Here are Carl’s photos from that operation:

Root ball is held with a fork lift while Jake aims the fire hose at its clay root ball.

Root ball is held with a fork lift while Jake aims the fire hose at its clay root ball.


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Aiming from all angles loosens the soil so it can wash away

Aiming from all angles loosens the soil so it can wash away


Washing a root ball this large requires plenty of space

Washing a root ball this large requires plenty of space


Dense mass of roots revealed

Dense mass of roots revealed


Preserving these roots should help the tree's chances of survival

Preserving these roots should help save the tree


Taking the pin oak to its new home

Moving the pin oak to its new home


Roots have been spread out as best as possible; now the hole is being backfilled and flooded.  Plunging the stake into the wet fill helps remove air pockets.

Roots have been spread out as best as possible; now the hole is being backfilled and flooded. Plunging the stake into the wet fill helps remove air pockets.


Paul Cavicchio holding a guy stake for the machine to push into the ground

Paul Cavicchio holding a guy stake for the machine to push into the ground

Carl had taken those photos of last fall’s washing operation, but until this week hadn’t been back to see how the tree was doing. This past Wednesday, when I was at the nursery in hopes of tagging a tree for a project, Carl arranged for us to meet Jake at the tree. We were hopeful…

Photos and Inspiration: Carl Cathcart, MCA
Owner: Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc., Sudbury, MA
Planting Crew: Jake Cavicchio, Paul Cavicchio, employees of Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc.

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A few posts back I mentioned my February 2009 article in Lawn and Landscape Magazine on bare-root tree transplanting using an air spade. That article was preceded by my December 1, 2008 article in American Nurseryman, , in which news of the technique debuted. Both articles describe the workshop at which several trees — a Juniperus virginiana, a couple of Acer palmatum, a couple of Betula pendula ‘Gracilis’, among others — were spaded and moved. Both articles outline how to carry out the process, though the Lawn and Landscape article is a bit more explicit. And they compare the merits of different methods of transplanting (tree spaded, ball & burlap, and air spade), including how cost, speed of operation, and effect on tree health may vary.

The beauty of using an air spade to transplant specimen trees is that so much root mass can be preserved and moved with the tree. The following photos of a dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum), lent by Matt Foti, illustrate just how effective at saving roots this technique is. Matt and his crews are using an air spade routinely now in transplanting work, because it preserves the tree’s resources so well, minimizing transplant shock and easing re-establishment. They moved this tree in early September of 2008. Take a look:

Acer palmatum dissectum awaiting its move.  Soil under the tree has been lightly spaded to check surface roots.

Acer palmatum dissectum awaiting its move. Soil under the tree has been lightly spaded to check surface roots.


Same tree, roots now exposed by the air spade.  Note how far beyond the tree's dripline these roots extend.

Same tree, roots now exposed by the air spade. Note how far beyond the tree's dripline these roots extend.


Tree being lifted up for the move.  The crew has wrapped its trunk and main limbs, to avoid injury; guy lines insure that it won't tip in transit.

Tree being lifted up for the move. The crew has wrapped its trunk and main limbs, to avoid injury; guy lines insure that it won't tip in transit.


Wrapping thoroughly during this kind of move lessens the chance of bark injury.

Wrapping thoroughly during this kind of move lessens the chance of bark injury.


Tree in its new location, backfilled and awaiting thorough watering.  No staking is necessary, as most of the root mass has been preserved and will continue to support the tree in its new home.

Tree in its new location, backfilled and awaiting thorough watering. No staking is necessary, as most of the root mass has been preserved and will continue to support the tree in its new home.

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