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Tree relocation at the New Campus Development

A large tree spade machine plants a tree

Five trees on the New Campus Development site were relocated on May 31. The trees were placed in areas that won’t be disturbed by future construction, so that they can take root and continue to grow.

All five trees were previously located in the area slated for construction of the parking structure to support the new hospital.

To be suitable for relocation, trees needed to meet three main criteria:

  • Under 22 cm diameter at breast height (a standard measurement used in horticulture), so that most of the root ball could be moved with the tree.
  • Good condition, so that they are more likely to thrive following their relocation. Trees with root damage or other concerns were not moved.
  • Native species, or horticulturally unique, to support native pollinators and wildlife and so that invasive species are not spread through the site.

These trees are the first to be planted – or in this case, replanted – on the site during construction of the New Campus Development. As part of the hospital’s commitment to the urban canopy, trees will be planted across the site to achieve a 40 percent canopy cover in 40 years – increased from the site’s previous canopy cover of 27 percent.

In addition to relocating suitable trees at each stage of site preparation, the team is exploring opportunities for early planting in areas that won’t be excavated or built on later in the project.

A tree spade is used to move an 8-foot-high sugar maple to a location on the New Campus Development site where it will not be disturbed by construction in the coming years.

How do you relocate a tree?

  1. The destination hole is prepared, so that when the tree is relocated, it can happen quickly and efficiently. A tree spade – a large machine designed for tree relocation – removes the soil in one solid ‘plug’, preserving its layers. The plug is dropped into the hole left by a previously relocated tree, or placed on the ground beside a tree that will be moved.
  2. The tree spade is positioned around the tree, and the blades dig into the ground around the root ball. The tree, roots and soil are removed from the ground and raised onto the truck for transport to its new home.  
  3. The truck drives to the site chosen for relocation and lowers the tree into the hole. The root ball and soil are the same size and shape as the soil plug that was removed, so they fit perfectly.
  4. The relocated trees will be watered and monitored to ensure they become established.