Friday, April 1, 2011
Moving a Hedge of Very Large Arborvitae
I have a huge hedge of 'Pyramidal' Arborvitae I planted beginning in the year 2003. It has grown quite big and beautiful and does provide me lots of privacy and beauty in the winter when nothing else is green. However, I planted this hedge in the wrong spot and with the completion of the privacy fence I decided to move this hedge.
Let me explain why this hedge was planted in the wrong spot. At the time of planting I had terrible neighbors and my main concern was privacy. Additionally I did not want the hedge close enough to the fence so as to be damaged by the adjacent property owner. The chainlink fence itself suffered quite enough damage by itself without having a living hedge be destroyed due to vandalism. Therefore I planted the hedge about seven feet from the fence. The arborvitae themselves can grow to about 5-6 feet wide. I really should've planted the hedge only about four feet from the fence because I lost that amount of space inside of the hedge and fence. I really missed the space too because who is going to use space between a fence and 11 foot tall shrubs? Normally boundaries and privacy fences would be on the outside of the living area of a yard not set several feet into the yard area.
I felt pretty confident I could move this hedge pretty much by myself. Normally moving shrubs this big is not a recommended project due to the trauma mature shrubs suffer their mortality rate is very high. I myself have lost one or two over the years in part due to moving. But here is the caveat, these shrubs grow in a low spot where water tends to flow underground just beneath the roots of the arborvitae. The area almost always stays wet in the lower area but does dry out considerably on the higher ground area. The total length of the hedge was to be 35 feet. The higher end of the area had the shorter shrubs (probably due to less water and more tree root competition) and the lower end had the very large shrubs. The two shrubs I have lost from this area were both growing above the water level and so were not privy to a good underground source of water. By the time I realized they were in trouble it was too late. But now that I know of the situation I'll be able to monitor it more closely this summer so I decided to move these shrubs.
There were eight shrubs in total ranging from 6 feet to 12 feet tall. What was I thinking??? I was able to move four of the eight shrubs by myself. I don't even want to ever think of doing something like this again. I began by digging the huge holes to accommodate the rootballs. I then cut around the root balls being sure to stay outside of the canopy if I was able to do so. This meant I had about 30-40 inch rootballs. In order to be sure the roots were completely cut and to dislodge the shrubs I leaned them over. This part was easy.
Moving the shrubs and their rootballs over was not so easy. Here we are looking at the before the move photo. See all of that room between the fence and the arborvitae? I used to have some barberry growing here but have since removed it. Anything that is invasive or has thorns has to go and the barberry fit the bill. I used the chainsaw to take them out. If you look all the way down past the hedge you can just make out a swing near the fence. Just on the other side of the swing is the end of my property and also the pond that belongs to my neighbor. To the right of this hedge there was about a three foot walkway between this hedge and a hedge of crepe myrtles and a small picket fence. This garden is known as my picket fence garden and I grow only touch me nots, the arborvitae, and the crepe myrtles in it. I wanted a bigger walkway so that the crepe myrtles would get more sun, I'd have more room to walk, and the yard would feel larger in this area without the shrubs infringing upon the space.
Ah, here we go. All moved and back into place-kind of. In order to move the bottom four shrubs I had to get my neighbor to come over and help Mr. Fix-it and I. What a big job!! The rootball with the trees must've weighed 300 pounds a piece and it was tough moving the shrubs over. Fortunately we did not have to move them far and were able to drag them into place pretty well. The hedge is now an even 36" from the privacy fence and each shrub is 48" apart. They should grow together nicely and recover in a few years. Can you see the swing and pond now? A much better view now I think and more breathing room for me and the crepes. I wish I had taken a before shot on this side of the arborvitae but just now realized I did not. It's hard to tell just how much more room we've gained with moving this hedge over.
The last time I moved some of these shrubs was in 2008. It also happened to be the year of the Master Gardener Garden Tour. My garden happened to be on the tour and I vividly remember I had a bunch of ropes holding these shrubs in place so that they would not fall over. I learned from prior experiences that without the roots to anchor these tall shrubs into place these shrubs will easily blow over. Blowing over is not such a big deal because I can usually set them up easily, but each time a shrub blows over the rootball is set back again. To prevent blow overs I have anchored each and every shrub in two different locations with more ropes. Not the prettiest thing in the garden but definitely functional. In a year or so I'll be able to remove the anchors and I'll still (hopefully) have a beautiful green arborvitae hedge....
in the garden....
And to think I am publishing this on April Fools day! Everyone beware...in the garden... and have a great weekend!
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden