We can’t move mountains, but we can move a tree

When Clark Construction began renovating the Loom house on Bainbridge Island – bringing an older home up to the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge – we had to demonstrate exceptional concern for the environment. 

That care extended to the landscape , where a beautiful Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) was growing in the footprint of where the new carport is being built. 

The solution: move the tree. 

Working with Anne C. James of Anne James Landscape Architecture of Redmond, Wash., and David M. Ohashi of Ohashi Landscape Services of Issaquah, we saved the tree and safely relocated it elsewhere on the property. 

“It is a beautiful specimen,” landscape architect Anne James said, “and given the LBC mantra of no waste/re-use, I suggested it remain on the site, and we move it to a new location where it could be enjoyed by everyone crossing the new bridge to the entry.” 

Moving the tree was a precise and painstaking process, beginning with timing – the tree had to be moved during the winter dormant period, and was transplanted in February 2018.  

The soil at the outer perimeter of the root zone was excavated with an air spade to reduce the weight of the root ball to be lifted, an estimated 5,500-6,000 pounds. 

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The air spade removes soil with compressed air, blowing the soilaway and leaving the roots intact and undamaged.  About two feet of soil was removed around the perimeter, leaving a root ball about eight feet across, with a couple more feet of roots dangling in mid-air beyond all the way around.  

These exposed roots were painted with a hydrogel to keep them from drying out until the root ball was hand dug and wrapped in burlap, and the tree moved a couple of days later.  

A large, extended-reach forklift was used to transport the tree to the lower driveway, where it could be maneuvered into place.  

The tree has settled in nicely, and bloomed in July.

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