This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We cannot do better this month than refer to the excellent hints of Miss A. G., and then take for a text the following query from Mr. George Wright, of Table Grove, Illinois : " I have some evergreens that have been set out for. ten years. I want to remove them. Can I do it safely ? If so, please give me some instruction how and when ; they have grown thrifty and are of good size".
Evergreens, such as you described, are moved here when twenty or twenty-five feet high, at comparatively small cost and perfect success. They can be moved up to the time the new growth commences, or any time after midsummer, when the young growth has become hard. If it is, say a Norway Spruce, with a trunk nine or twelve inches thick, the branches are drawn in as tightly as possible about the trunk for convenience in working. A trench at least two feet deep, and, say two feet wide, is dug around so as to leave what appears to be a ball of six feet radius around the trunk. From this time a strong digging fork is used to take all the earth out from the ball. This is very easily done if the approach to the stem is always made from under the ball, so that the earth rather falls out of the ball when the fork is put into it, than dug out. In this way nearly all the roots are preserved without much bruising. We have at last a tree with roots twelve feet wide, and which may have been, perhaps, all prepared by one man by half a day's work. Then we get a pair of wheels and a pole, such as lumber men use. A two-wheel cart may do on an emergency, and the two shafts are often better for an evergreen than a single pole.
Backed up against the tree, with the shafts so that they can be lashed to the tree, the top of the tree acts as a lever, and with a rope on the top of the pole or shafts, the tree comes over exactly balanced on the axle between the wheels. A horse then draws the tree, root foremost, to the new hole prepared for it, where it is easily dropped in. The earth is then hammered in, shovelful by shovelful, as tight as it is possible to hammer it, so that there shall not be a hair's breadth of a cavity left if it is possible to close it, and the work is done. In this way two or three men and a horse can move a tree twenty-five feet high in one day, and if the earth is tightly hammered in, the tree, if healthy and vigorous, will be almost sure to live. It is no use to try to move an unthrifty tree. Its low vital power will not survive the shock. Do not water, this is one of the fatal practices often employed. It may carry the earth to the top of the roots, but the weight of water carries the earth away from the under surface of the roots.
Incessant hammering of every shovelful of earth will do more good than all the watering could ever do. If the earth be hammered as properly as it ought to be, there is no room for the earth to be carried tighter by water. If the earth be as tightly hammered in as it ought to be, there will be no occasion for staking. If a tree lean or sink after planting, it shows it was not properly planted.