Instructables

How To Move a Tree, Vehicle and A-frame Method

Featured
Picture of How To Move a Tree, Vehicle and A-frame Method
IMGP3023ca.JPG
Don't cut down that fruit tree!
Let someone transplant it to a happy new home.
Here's how. If there's no vehicle access, try the tree dolly method instead.

1: Find a tree that needs a new home. Lots of people give away trees on craigslist.
2: Prune the tree hard. You need to remove at least 1/3 of the leaves and branches.
Your tree will have a lot less roots than it used to, and can't feed as many branches.
3: Do the move at the best time of year. Deciduous trees are best moved during the winter when they're dormant and have no leaves. This orange tree is evergreen and needs to move now, so here we go.

Got a tree in the SF Bay area that needs a new home? Contact me!
I'm also seeking a jackhammer.

WARNING:
Dangerous operations are shown here with big heavy objects, sharp tools, and big machines.
Dangerous like logging, farming, and construction.
Don't get hurt. Proceed with caution!

Many thanks to Kenny, Victor, Brie, and Rachel for a great tree moving adventure, and to Chelsea for letting us save her beautiful orange tree.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Scribe Around the Root Ball

Picture of Scribe Around the Root Ball
You want to move the tree without disturbing the roots. That means moving it with the biggest undisturbed root ball you can manage.
That's probably between 3 and 4 feet diameter and 2 or 3 feet deep.
I use a pick with a 3 foot handle (which I made myself) to scribe a 7 foot circle around the trunk.
There's pavement there but we're allowed to break it to get the tree out.
I already pruned a lot of branches off the tree.

Step 2: Unpave

Picture of Unpave
IMGP2987c.JPG
This is a lot easier than it sounds and a whole lot of fun.
Remove the pavement from around the tree so you can get at the dirt and roots.
Get the biggest sledge hammer you can find and start smashing. Wear safety glasses.
Victor and Kenny go to town. Take that, civilization!

3366carlos1 year ago
good project, i hope it survived. can u post a recent picture?
I'd be more inclined to rent/pay for one of these guys....


Dutchman_95_Tree_Spade_on_Loader.jpgDutchman_Spade_Comparison.jpg
Cool images on when to move a tree! Here is a photo of one of my fathers trucks....
when-to-move-a-tree.jpg
Much too expensive.
....yet sooooo awesome
true
Epoltrack832 years ago
Hello, Nice information on when to move a tree. My father is in the tree transplanting business and I have worked with him the past 11 years. Amazing
PKM4 years ago
I'm wondering how far back in time I'd have to go to find a Tim Anderson instructable that didn't say "... so we tied it with innertubes" at some point. :)

The picture with the tree in the truck bed reminds me of the Garrison Keillor story about the seed salesman's car.  There should be more trees growing out of cars.  Who wants to go to a junkyard with seed bombs?
Nothing really sits still long enough at a wrecking for anything to have time to grow. It would be cool to plant things in abandoned cars though.

We have that at my parents place. And plans to do more.

I have an old '27 Ford Model T Tudor sedan body that I refuse to scrap - so - I'm building a planter box where the back seats would be and a bench where the front seat would be. This way the kids (and myself) have a shady place to play with an old car... and another tree in the yard.
I may have to move a paw paw tree that I don't want to see wasted. This is great to show the people who are going to help me move the tree.
bigwhitebob3 years ago
Great job guys, came here looking to post a B&B instructable. glad you guys already did. Two bits of info to add.

1. root ball should be 10-12 inches for each inch of caliper on the trunk.
2. The heavy pruning is not required or healthy. research seems to show that by keeping the extra foliage on evergreens and buds on deciduous trees it can utilize the extra carbohydrates for root growth and establish quicker.

Great job guys, and I am way jealous of that dark soil you all have.

Bawb
tim_n3 years ago
Hi Tim, how is the tree going now? Best to take any fruit off this year so it puts its energy into building new roots.

Personally I'd have chopped it down, but its great to see the job you did of scavenging it!
DIG THIS IBLE GREAT JOB GOOD INFO! that is one crazy rig you all came up with.  one thing i found really helps in transplanting is to. place a lot of charcoal under, in and around the roots. it has worked on the heirloom rose bushes ive inherited. moved about 6 weeks ago with out even the slightest hickup  from plants. in fact i believe that it has actually induced rapid growth, due to early budding all over. the warm weather on the west coast us could be a factor. but Ive never had plants snap back so quick after moving. again great job!
look for a ible from me on hardcore bio char production soon. 
TimAnderson (author)  cyborgpigeon4 years ago
great! should I grind up the char? what size is good? do you mix it with dirt?
how thick do you add it?
katmckee4 years ago
orange tree on a road trip!!
katmckee4 years ago
wow, that's some dark silty-looking soil! glad it's not sand or it'd be really massive and spill away from the roots.
katmckee4 years ago
awesome ingenuity
luvit4 years ago
 i move trees
felling%20medium%20tree.jpg
For every inch of trunk diameter, there should be 12 inches of root ball diameter - diameter matters more than depth since 80% of the roots will be in the top 18" of soil - most trees don't have "taproots".  If you are trying to move a mature tree (i.e., something that actually looks like a tree), you should do it over the course of several weeks or even months depending on the age and size.  Even if you do it all according to the book, there's still a good chance the tree will die.
 
How big a tree could this be done with, in realistic terms... Because I will be moving and I like my tree... 
Basically, at the point that you start exceeding 13.5' in height and 8.5' in width, it becomes an oversize load and could have problems with underpasses, etc. not to mention needing a permit.
Yes, I would also like to know if it survived, does it help to spray a solution of hormone growth encourager onto the roots when replanting?
Beautiful tree. I really like this.
The other day my girlfriend's dad was driving me home while listening to a conservative radio station. They were making the usual jokes about global warming and carbon offsets and jokingly said that everyone should just plant a tree in the trunk of their cars and have that be their carbon offset.
 
Naturally I thought that was a great idea and started thinking about how cool that would look. I didn't think I would really get to see a picture of it any time soon, but now here I am staring at that picture of your truck with a citrus tree in the back. 5*
Well, I don't have a jackhammer or a fruit tree, but I have a pellet stove and a clothes dryer you can have. But they are in Tacoma.
that picture with the breaking of the concrete reminds me of the scene from the movie "The Office" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfCYzJAgwrw&feature=related (this is the link of the scene)
KnexFreek4 years ago
 nice :)
sonicdrive4 years ago
i dont think you have a big enough root ball on that i thought it had to be 1/2 the ploom of the canopy ??? or it will die ?? maybe im wrong
So did it survive? That's the real question.
Chromatica4 years ago
 Good to know!
 1st view and rate!