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Posts Tagged ‘root excavation’

Last August I went to a workshop in Westford, MA, at which two Massachusetts-certified arborists demonstrated how to move larger specimen trees using compressed air.  Mike Furgal, who developed the method about five years ago, and Matt Foti, who hosted the event at his nursery, showed a group of about 100 arborists, landscape contractors, and designers how they remove all the soil from a tree’s roots, pick the tree up, and move it to a new location.  This revolutionary version of the bare-root method creates relatively little stress in the tree, which typically can retain up 90% or so of its roots this way.  The technique gives landscape architects greater flexibility in specifying the safe salvage and reuse of trees from a mature site; far less transplant shock means shorter re-establishment periods and a much greater chance of success in transplanting.

The whole crowd was amazed by the efficacy of bare-root transplanting. It was remarkable to see a 20′ tall Japanese maple getting moved in the middle of a sunny August day, and settle into its new home without a wilted leaf; to witness the immense root plates that the arborists were unearthing intact on a variety of trees; and watch as a 4″ caliper birch — birches hate to be moved in summer or fall, and usually die in the process — was air-spaded up and moved without any problem.  Compressed-air technology points the way to a healthier landscape, and after this workshop, Massachusetts arborists started calling in their orders for Air Spades and Air Knifes.

I wrote a couple of articles about how this method works and what its benefits are.  The first article came out in American Nurseryman (1 December 2008 issue) and is reprinted in the March 2009 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.  The second, published in the February 2009 issue of Lawn and Landscape magazine, describes a little more fully than the ANM article how the method works.  (This site is tricky to navigate; the article starts on page 76 of the February issue, and you have to click on the individual pages — the info should be worth the effort.)

One correction to the American Nurseryman article:  it says the standard formula for digging trees limits the size of trees that can be moved with a mechanical trees spade, and that no tree over 9′-6″ in caliper should be moved that way.  Well, that’s a misprint — how many 9′-6″ trees are you familiar with?  The real number should be 12″ caliper.  My apologies for the error, which originated on my keyboard…

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