“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend,” Bob Ross
It really wasn’t the 4-foot maple’s fault that someone planted it too close to the house, and we knew we were taking a chance. There was a chance it wouldn’t survive the move, but there was also the possibility that it would die where it was without room to grow.
Just like a piece of art, if you don’t take the chance it won’t be the best that it could be. In fact, it may not even become a piece of art. I sometimes get stuck on a painting that has “too much going on” or “not enough.” It is a case of rescuing a painting from the depths—making sure it can survive.
The lace-leaf maple in question was so beautiful on the side away from the house that we determined we would do this. It would, of course, be quite the project. Certainly, not a one-day affair, but multiple days.
The first step was lightening the load. That meant trimming anything that would add to its weight—but not to its potential to grow. This included not just limbs, but eventually roots.
Digging didn’t start until the second day, and it took half of the day digging with both a shovel and hand spade to free as much of the red clay as possible. This also happens with a painting.
You get so much on the surface sometimes that you lose sight of what the painting is hoping to communicate. Most of the time, less is more. The best way to determine what stays and what goes is to break the painting into quarters. Look at each area and find out what sings and what is just carrying the tune along. You could also take a color photograph with your phone and a black and white to determine contrast. Both of these give you valuable information about how to proceed.
Don’t think that just because you’ve lightened the load it will be easy. You don’t want to bare root the tree, but you also don’t want it to weight 300 pounds. And trust me red clay weighs a lot! Also, try to determine if the tree has a tap root. Usually maples do not, and ours didn’t. However, we missed a couple side roots that made it impossible to slide the root ball up on a board to get it out of the hole. At the end of the second day, we wrapped the root ball for the chilly overnight.
The last day was a must “get it out.” It was likely to rain that night. More digging, more grunting, more pulling—a couple hours in fact before the smart one in the family asked for help from our son-in-law. Now I can handle a paint brush with the best of them, but not so much a (now) 200-pound tree. Within 15 minutes of his arrival, the tree was out of the first hole and into its new home about 15 feet away.
Goodness I wish I could move a few paintings along with his help, but I believe I’m on my own there. It is really about taking the risk of changing something, rather than knowing how successful it will be when it is finished.
Only spring will tell!