How to plant a large tree with a tractor
Gardensnob bought six Weeping Alaskan Cedars to create a living screen from the road. These trees weigh 450-500 lbs each and would be very difficult to plant without the help of a tractor. After planting three of them, I've decided that the tractor is just about the coolest tool in the gardener's collection. I know, I know, it pollutes and uses diesel fuel and promotes an unsustainable way of living but I LOVE IT!
As a smaller person, I don't have a chance at doing some of this stuff without the help of our Kabota 3010. Figuratively, I have the strength of thirty horses while operating it. In a perfect world, we would live in small communities where everyone would help everyone else and we would team up for the difficult chores. But, for now, I can move 1,500 lbs tree stumps, 1/2 cords of wood and 500 lb trees all by myself.
Here's how the cedars are planted:
1. Mark the final position of the tree on the lawn with lawn/landscaping paint. The lines have to be long enough for you to see when you are on the tractor.
2. Scrape away the sod. This stuff is unbelievably heavy and just gets in the way when you are filling in the hole.
3. Dig a hole 2-2.5 times the size of the root ball on all sides. Turns out our 5' wide bucket is just the right size for these big trees. The depth of the hole should be only as deep as the root ball. Always keep the trunk at the same depth as it is in its pot (or burlap).
4. Measure the depth of the hole accurately by placing a 2x4 over it and taking the measurement at the center of the hole.
After the correct depth has been achieved, add some compost and a few shovels full of peat moss to the hole.
6. Bring the bucket as close as possible to the root ball. Tie a rope around the base of the trunk and hook it to the top of the bucket.
7. Tilt the bucket slightly and raise it 6" or so. The tree is now off the ground and ready to be moved to the hole. (Trees this size are usually planted in clay, not loose, crumbly soil. The root ball will stay intact even with just a small portion of it being lifted by the bucket as long as you also secure it with rope.)
7. Lower the bucket into the hole and tilt it slightly until the back side of the root ball touches the ground. Maneuver the bucket gently until there is slack on the rope. Remove the rope and back the tractor away from the hole.
8. Adjust the tree in the hole. Make sure it's plumb by looking at it from several angles and checking it at the base of the trunk (ignoring the grade of the root ball). If necessary, get in the hole with your back against the side of the hole. Prop up the tree with one foot while shoveling soil at the base to stabilize the tree in the proper position.
Step into the hole and cut the burlap, ropes, cords and any other foreign material away from the root ball. Don't worry if you can't get at the burlap that's under the tree. It will decompose. Then push soil into the hole with the tractor bucket, stopping to add compost as the hole is filled. When the hole is approx. 1/2 full, water it and compact the soil around the tree to prevent air pockets. This is where those Muck Boots really come in handy!
9. Fill in the remainder of the hole so that it is even with the lawn. Put the sod back where feasible and put the rest of the sod on the compost pile. Water thoroughly and water daily for the next few weeks.
Stand back with beverage in hand and admire your hard work. What a beautiful addition to the landscape!
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Posted by Mary Ellen at November 3, 2008 7:00 AM