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Transplanting Trees Using Air Spading

by Sonia Baerhuk

Successfully navigating the challenges of large scale construction projects while creating and preserving ecological landscapes, involves considerations beyond typical landscape design.

Recent construction projects at the Perkins School for the Blind required the transplanting of several large trees. Air spading was chosen in lieu of the tree spade method to minimize root damage.

The air spade is a state of the art excavation tool that uses great volumes of compressed air to remove and break up soil without damaging roots.

The compressed air cuts through soil quickly and accurately in less time and with less damage than conventional digging.

Roots Exposed
Air spading exposes perfect radial roots.

Pigtail Root Tie Up
“Pigtail” roots are tied up in preparation for transplanting.

Loaded on Bobcat
The tree is tied to the bobcat for the move.

Trees Goes for a Ride
And then the tree goes for a ride.

Preparing new site
In the meantime, the transplant site is dug and amended with compost.

Planting First Tree
And the tree is driven into its new location.

Both deciduous and evergreen trees were transplanted.
Air spading allows you to examine the different root structures.

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Nice roots exposed and this tree is ready to move.

Lifting the Transplant
Lifting the transplant for the move.

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The transplant site is ready for planting.

Transplanted in new location
And another tree is successfully relocated.

Located on 40 beautiful acres in Watertown, Massachusetts, the Perkins School for the Blind includes spectacular grounds and buildings with architecture described as “Collegiate Gothic.” The school moved to its present location in 1910, chosen for its beautiful landscape, glorious trees, and many possibilities.

About the Author

Sonia Baerhuk is the Lead Grounds person at Perkins and has an extensive background in landscape design, maintenance, and construction. Throughout her career, Sonia has continued her studies at the Arnold Arboretum, UMass Extension, and Radcliff School of Landscape and has completed the DCR Tree Steward Program.