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Will this 250-year-old, 65 foot-tall oak tree survive its move?

Oct 13, 2014

I hope they have more success than I did.

I tried moving a four-year-old oak tree in my backyard… and failed. Of course, they’ll be using more than just a spade and a burlap sack.

We’ll likely find out over the next few years whether the $300,000 to $400,000 project to move the 250-year-old bur oak tree on the campus of the University of Michigan worked.

The tree is being moved as part of a $135 million, donor-funded expansion of U of M’s business school. The school announced today that the oak will be moved on October 25, weather permitting.

Moving my tree's root ball was hard enough. How in the world will they move a 700,000 to 850,000 pound root ball?

Glad you asked. Here’s a video showing exactly that:

Crews have been preparing the tree for the move since this summer.

According to the University Record, prep work for moving the tree has included:

  • Exploratory digging to establish the root-ball size.
  • Root pruning to encourage new root growth within the root ball.
  • Supplemental watering and fertilization.
  • Selective pruning to ensure structure and weight balance.

After the expansion plans were announced in the wake of last year’s $200 million donation to the university by Stephen M. Ross, students, faculty, and staff signed a petition to save the bur oak tree.

The photos above are from Corey Seeman. He’s the director of the Kresge Business Administration Library at the U of M’s Ross School of Business – the tree stands right outside the library.

You can see Seeman’s Flickr photostream of the entire business school construction project here:

The Associated Press reports that the company moving the tree, Environmental Design, will return to Ann Arbor this week to continue preparing for the move.

Odds of survival: an official with the company pegs it at “at least 80%.”

What’s your guess, will the tree survive the move?

*This post was updated to reflect the time it may take to know whether the move was a success.