Every day in the tree care profession, individual arborists and companies do extraordinary things. Unfortunately, we don’t hear about each and every instance. Most of these situations happen simply as part of the job — you do what needs to be done, extraordinary or ordinary, and move on to the next one. That’s how it works.
Well, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity here to share one of these extraordinary stories with you.
BrightView Tree Company recently relocated a massive, 700,000-pound Quercus agrifolia (California live oak) in California.
Talk about undertaking a humongous task.
This 100-year-old oak, which measures 50 feet tall with branches spanning double its height, is the largest tree BrightView has ever moved. “It was a massive tree,” said Robert Crudup, president and COO of BrightView Tree Company. “Due to the sheer magnitude of the project, our project team divided it into two phases, spanning several months.”
According to BrightView, the first phase involved boxing the tree and moving it from its previous location to a temporary storage yard, but not until after the company brought the tree to full health.
“We prewatered the tree for roughly three to four months just to prepare the oak for the transplanting process,” said Sal Ponce, superintendent with BrightView’s Specimen Division. “We did this to improve its vigor so that when it was time to cut the roots, we would have a successful transplant.”
For two days, 14 team members using three backhoes excavated and installed the box around the roots of the tree. It took an additional two weeks to install the bottom boards and steel beams used for supporting the oak’s massive weight.
“It took us four days to raise the tree to get it to 44 inches high so that our transportation platform could fit underneath,” Ponce said. “The reasoning behind it was to get some space below the beams to allow us to safely maneuver the tree onto the equipment.”
The next — and crucial — step was loading the tree.
BrightView team members loaded it onto two combined heavy-haul platform trailers — each 12-feet wide with a total of 64 wheels — and pulled it with a 2,500-horsepower tractor. The tires each had individual jacks to make sure the platform remained flat while moving over uneven terrain.
Next up was the work needed to be done at the storage area.
Once the tree arrived in its storage area, about a quarter of a mile away from the original location, BrightView team members continuously cared for the oak while waiting four months for roads to be built and graded so access could be made to proceed to the final phase of this massive project.
For this phase, the tree was loaded back up on the Goldhofer platforms and taken on a six-hour journey to its final destination, about 1.5 miles away.
“[The second phase] was a much more challenging portion of the job than [the first phase,]” Ponce said. “Since we went above and beyond with communication, everybody knew exactly what their roles were and our tree moving experts made it a huge success.”
Once the oak was at its final destination, team members lowered it to the ground with hydraulic jacks.
I mentioned the word “extraordinary” above. If this tree-move job doesn’t fit into that category, I don’t know what does.
“For us, it was a project that raised the bar to an all-time high,” Crudup said. “Our client expected excellence and wanted a team of experts to complete this job successfully and safely. Decades of tree-moving expertise possessed by our team members allowed us to deliver.”
Since the completion of the relocation, BrightView is providing the post-transplant care for the tree, which continues to thrive today and hopefully will do so for many, many more years.
Editor’s note: Thank you to Candice Monhollan, of BrightView Companies, for sharing this story.