Using a Tree Spade to Preserve Your Favorite Tree

Some trees can’t fully “bloom where they are planted” due to crowding, lack of proper sunlight and hydration, or even planned construction where the tree currently lives. Thankfully, there are options for preserving a favorite tree under any of these conditions. One of the best ways to keep your tree alive and thriving is by transporting it with a tree spade. Here’s how a tree spade works – and why you’re probably best leaving its operation to the professionals. 

What is a Tree Spade? 

As a tool, tree spades have been around in some form since as early as 1961, and make moving trees only possible but far less laborious. They function by using several large blades that encircle the tree’s roots (also called the root ball) and scoop the root ball out in the shape of a funnel. Think it of similarly to how an excavator digs on a construction site. Once the root system has been scooped up, the tree can be carefully transferred to another spot or placed in a pot for long-distance transportation.  

Tree spade lifting root ball out of the ground.

A tree spade is used to dig up trees or bushes. It allows you to transport nearly any tree with minimal disturbance to that tree’s root systems, ensuring that it can survive and continue to grow in a new location.  

Operating a Tree Spade 

Before using a tree spade, it’s essential for a professional to assess the tree’s health, size and suitability for preservation. They will check for signs of disease or stress, as unhealthy trees may not be suitable for transplanting. Once the tree is deemed healthy enough for transportation, they will choose the appropriate tree spade attachment and configuration – a delicate process. 

Once everything is ready, the tree spade operator will position the tree spade near the tree, taking care to align it with the root ball. The blades of the tree spade will penetrate the soil and encase the root ball and surrounding soil, and then the hydraulic system will allow the operator to lift and transport it to its new location.  

Transporting a Tree 

Once the tree’s root ball has been carefully scooped out of the ground, there still is a level of care needed to ensure the tree makes it to its destination. Before planting the root ball, it’s necessary to check that the new hole is appropriately sized. Placing the tree into the new hole is a delicate process as well, as handling it too roughly can damage the roots. You also want to avoid compacting the soil excessively when filling the hole with soil. It’s a good practice to apply mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture and suppress weeds. 

The newly transported tree will need some extra TLC and maintenance in the early days to ensure its survival. This involves watering the tree regularly and monitoring it for signs of stress while it adjusts to its new home. 

Calling the Professionals  

Tree spades are incredibly useful tools that allow us to transport trees – big and small – to a new location without damaging them. As with any skilled operation of heavy equipment, however, it’s a good idea to leave this task to the professionals to ensure your tree has the best chance of survival and to ensure your personal safety in the process.  

Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning, transportation and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your trees, identify any structural problems and diagnose any pests and/or diseased trees, including whether a tree is a good candidate for transportation. 

Contact us today to get started.