PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – BrightView Tree Company took on the monumental task of relocating a 700,000-pound Quercus agrifolia (California live oak) to its new home in Orange County, California.
At 50 feet tall, with branches spanning double its height, the oak is the largest tree BrightView has ever moved.
“It was a massive tree,” said Robert Crudup, president and COO of BrightView Tree Company. “Due to the sheer magnitude of the project, our project team divided it into two phases spanning several months.”
Crudup said the tree weighs more than a Boeing 747.
Phase one involved boxing the tree and moving it from its previous location to a temporary storage yard, but not until after the company brought the tree to full health.
“We pre-watered the tree for roughly three to four months just to prepare the oak for the transplanting process,” said Sal Ponce, superintendent with BrightView’s specimen division. “We did this to improve the vigor of this impressive tree so that when it was time to cut the roots, we would have a successful transplant.”
For two days, 14 team members using three backhoes excavated and installed the box around the roots of the tree while it took an additional two weeks to install the bottom boards and steel beams used for supporting its massive weight.
Using hydraulic jacks, the team elevated the 30-by-30-foot box.
“It took us four days to raise the tree to get it to 44 inches high so that our transportation platform could fit underneath,” Ponce said. “The reasoning behind it is to get some space below the beams to allow us to safely maneuver the tree onto the equipment.”
BrightView team members loaded the tree onto two combined heavy haul platform trailers – each 12-feet wide with a total of 64 wheels – and pulled with a 2,500-horsepower tractor.
Once the tree arrived in its storage area about a quarter of a mile away, BrightView team members continuously cared for the oak while waiting four months for roads to be built and graded so access could be made to proceed to the final phase of the project.
For phase two, the tree was loaded back up on the Goldhofer platforms and taken on a six-hour journey to its final destination about a mile and a half away.
“Phase two was a much more challenging portion of the job than phase one,” Ponce said. “Since we went above and beyond with communication, everybody knew exactly what their roles were and our tree moving experts made it a huge success.”
Once the oak tree was at its final destination, team members lowered it to the earth with hydraulic jacks. Since the completion of the relocation, BrightView continues to provide the much-needed expert post-transplant care for the tree.
“For us, it was a project that raised the bar to an all-time high,” Crudup said. “Our client expected excellence and wanted a team of experts to complete this job successfully and safely. Decades of tree-moving expertise possessed by our team members allowed us to deliver.”