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Featuring Trees in the Play Environment – May 2017

Relocating established trees or shrubs from one location to another is one method of changing your landscape and saving money at the same time.  When moving a large specimen to accommodate a new building layout or to preserve the tree in a different locale, great care should be taken throughout the process.

A number of factors conspire to make tree relocation a challenging task:

  • Large trees are heavy and thus difficult to transport. Moving large trees requires specialised equipment and expertise.
  • Expert advice is needed to move a mature tree without damaging the root ball or stem, which is the life support of the tree.
  • In order to lift and relocate a tree, the root ball needs to be prepared and this entails cutting trenches around the tree’s trunk so that the root ball can be wrapped and lifted.
  • Due to the size and sensitivity of the root system, it is imperative that the root ball is cut to the correct diameter. If not, the tree’s ability to recover and develop can be compromised.
  • Unfortunately, trees do not come equipped with convenient carry handles and this, together with their awkward shape, can make lifting and lowering large trees problematic. Lifting trees by their trunks is foolhardy at best, as canvas straps attached to the trunk can easily ring-bark the tree if they are used in a lifting capacity.
  • Ideally the tree should be lifted by the root ball. When moving trees, it is important that the root ball is kept intact.  To prevent desiccation, Sun Trees wraps the walls of the root ball with cling-wrap, on top of which galvanised netting, tensioned in a fencing process, is placed.  Using a combination of netting and cling-wrap provides good support and minimises evapo-transpiration during the relocations process.  It is important to partially allow the root ball to dry out before the actual relocation process commences.
  • Trees relocated during autumn and winter recover faster and are less susceptible to mortality than trees relocated during summer and spring. By planting during the colder months the tree’s root system is allowed to settle without having to supply the same quantity of nutrients and water demanded during the growing season.
  • Root ball preparation and post-planting care determine the success of one’s planting operation. However, it is not only the techniques employed and care taken during planting, but the period immediately after planting that determines the success of the endeavour.   During and immediately after planting, trees should be viewed like patients in a high care ward; regular deep watering and bracing the tree by means of guying is in most instances an imperative in the months that follow planting.