The travels of a mature tree

By November 26, 2014 Blog No Comments

The luxury of a mature native tree canopy has always appealed to a discerning cross section of clients of PAGE | DUKE landscape architects. Whether working among the tall longleaf pines of South Georgia, the majestic live oaks of the coastal south or the climax oak forests of the upper south, mature native trees have always held connotations of continuity, permanence, and quality. When a client comes to PAGE |DUKE desiring these characteristics, and the site does not naturally have those attributes, we know that there are professionals who can come to the rescue with a solution – tree movers!

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The far flung locations of many of PAGE|DUKE projects has presented many unusual challenges for creatively using the talents of tree movers. One such recent project, located on Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, found us with a client who desired that an existing boathouse on their property needed to be effectively screened from the gorgeous new home they were building nearby. The cottages were nestled so tightly around the lake that the only viable way to move the 25’ tall balsam to the site was to engage a barge and tug boat to bring the 10 ton spade truck and 2 ton tree all the way across the lake to the site – an incredible example of organizational skills, patience, and nail-biting endurance. As with most projects of this magnitude, PAGE|DUKE associates were on site for the operation to guide every aspect of the final placement of the magnificent specimen and it accomplished exactly what our client had dreamed it would do!

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Paul Cox, Vice President of Environmental Design/Davey, Inc. has worked with PAGE | DUKE on several occasions throughout the southeast. His company’s expertise has proven quite valuable with the planning and logistics of how to dig, move and install a broad spectrum of mature trees. The orchestration of such an endeavor has proven to be nothing short of amazing. One example of a PAGE | DUKE project created an interesting challenge that Paul was eager to assist with. A 150+ year old live oak in North Carolina was selected to be moved. The new location had to be carefully located to flank an equally impressive existing tree contiguous to an elegant historic house of national significance.

The tree required the excavation of a 40’ diameter rootball to maintain the tree’s root system. Six to nine months before any digging occurred, Environmental Design pruned the tree’s roots to help prepare the ancient Live Oak for the anticipated move. Paul estimates that the tree weighed an incredible 600,000 lbs. to mitigate the incredible stress and compression that this weight represents, round steel beams were driven under the entire tree to support the large mass of root and soil structure. Reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle launch pad, Paul’s team raised and supported the 300 ton mass on a gantry system with hydraulic lifts at each corner. The tree was raised and lowered onto tracks that could be steered and maneuvered with the aid of heavy equipment. The entire moving process took several days to coordinate; however, once the tree began to move it was remarkable how quickly the landscape was transformed.

Environmental Design utilized two D8 bulldozers as well as a 50 ton excavator to gently push and tug the tree towards its selected location. The entire site had to be excavated to the precise elevation prior to the tree arriving at its new home. The tree was gently lowered into its new home, providing a dramatic view from the house as envisioned by PAGE | DUKE and the client.

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Working to augment the native landscape on a magnificent 1920’s Tudor revival estate in Indianapolis, Indiana, PAGE | DUKE created a landscape master plan focusing on the refinement of the owner’s collection of rare and exotic native trees. The first phase of the project involved the acquisition of an incredible 30’ tall weeping copper beech, which was carefully installed in March of 2013. The tree successfully leafed out and never realized it had been moved more than 18- miles from its original home.

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The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina provided another outlet for the talents of our tree moving consultants. A client in Hattiesburg, Mississippi woke the day after the storm to find over 250 mature pine trees flattened on their seven acre property. PAGE | DUKE developed a landscape master plan for the restoration of the entire property that involved scouring the south for specimen live oaks, huge crepe myrtles, enormous magnolias, spending two years recreating a virtual forest closely resembling that which was tragically lost in the storm.

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PAGE | DUKE knows that when feasible, the true luxury of using the most advanced technology and arboreal expertise to move large trees gives property owners the ability to compress time and achieve mature landscapes so they, their families and friends can enjoy the peace and serenity of these majestic plants.

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