7 Mighty Machines for Moving Trees Without Killing Them

These incredible machines can dig up and move entire trees without harming them.
Christopher McFadden
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Have you ever wondered how large trees are moved from one piece to another without getting damaged? While you might be able to do it by hand and a lot of time, you may wonder if there are any machines that could do it more quickly?

As it turns out there are some specialized machines called tree spades that make the process relatively simple, easy, and very quick. Most of these machines are mounted on some form of truck or trailer, that can carry the tree, once extracted, from one location to another and replant them.

They can do all this with the minimum of harm to the target trees. 

What are some machines that can move trees without harming them?

So, without further ado, here are some examples of mighty machines that can uproot and move trees without permanently harming them. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Check out this enormous hydraulic tree spade

tree lifting machines arborlift
Source: treemover.com

One company has managed to design, patent, and build one of the world's largest tree spades in existence. This monster is completely hydraulic and is able to excavate, lift, and move an entire tree without doing it any harm.

Called "Arborlift", the machine has helped revolutionize the world of giant, and smaller, tree transplanting. This machine eliminates the need for hiring hydraulic cranes and heavy-duty trailers and transporters as part of the tree relocation process.

The system works by utilizing a series of inflatable pneumatic bladders with near-zero ground bearing pressure beneath a rigid lifting platform. Once the tree is extracted, this machine allows the tree to be rolled over many surfaces from turf to concrete. 

This system is able to remove trees with root balls in excess of 36 feet (11 meters) in diameter and trees not exceeding one million pounds (453,592 kgs) in weight. 

2. Meet "Big John" the Tree Spade

tree moving machines big john
Source: pracbrown.co.uk

This is another example of a specialized machine that is able to dig up and move an entire tree safely. These specialized Tree Spade machines are able to extract trees up to around 100 cm in girth. 

"Big John" is a 1.6 m 4 x 4 truck-mounted Tree Spade. According to the company that operates this machine, it was imported into Europe from the USA where such machines are more commonplace for large development sites. 

The machine works by effectively plunging its enormous jaws into the soil underneath a tree to extract it and most of its roots out of the ground in one go. Its mounting vehicle has a set of extra-wide floatation tires that minimize ground compaction as much as possible. 

This machine is around 2.5 meters wide, 3.9 meters tall and weighs somewhere in the region of 10,000 kg without a tree. It can handle trees with trunk diameters of between 100 and 160 mm with rootballs up to 1.6 meters in diameter, and up to a maximum of 2,500 kg in weight

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3. The Optimal 1100 is a pretty awesome tree moving machine

tree moving machines optimal
Source: pracbrown.co.uk

The Optimal 1100 is yet another amazing tree moving machine that doesn't harm the target tree during the process. This machine is usually mounted on the back of another vehicle, like a Kramer 520 compact loader, and can move most species of deciduous and coniferous trees up to 110 mm in stem diameter. 

This kind of setup is able to navigate and move tress in tree nurseries and orchards. Like other tree spades, it sinks its claws into the ground and extracts the tree, with its roots, from the ground in one piece. 

The difference with this machine is that it is specially designed for fibrous-rooted trees. It is 2 meters in width, 2.8 meters tall and weighs around 6,400 kg. It can pull up trees to 500 kg in weight with a rootball of 110 cm in width. 

4. Here is another awesome tree moving machine

This machine MOVES trees so you don't have to cut them down. from r/interestingasfuck

Here is yet another example of an amazing tree moving machine that doesn't hurt the tree. Called a Curved Blade 100, this specialist tree spade is a true monster.

Like other tree spades on this list, this one is usually mounted on the back of a truck. Tree Spades of this size are able to move trees safely up to around 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter. 

This particular video also shows one of the machines added options called a dirt cover.

"Dirt Covers assure the least amount of soil is lost while in transit. Two fabricated metal plates with a horseshoe cutout allow the operator to easily center the tree trunk inside the cover." - Dutchman Industries

5. This Tree Spade is an absolute monster

tree moving machines stocker
Source: ruskins.co.uk

This next tree spade is a beast, even when compared to other tree moving machines mentioned above. Called the "Stocker 8", this tree moving monster really needs to be seen to be believed.

The entire spade is around 2.16 meters in diameter, and it can handle trees up to about 30 cm in diameter safely without the need for root preparation. 

6. This might just be the biggest tree moving machine around

tree moving machines biggest
Source: gudsol

Next up is one of the biggest tree moving machines in the world. It is capable of uprooting and transplanting trees as big as 35 meters high. This tree spade is mounted on a specialized trailer that is 12 meters long and 9 meters wide.

The trailer has a capacity of 112 tons and its bucket capacity is 19 cubic meters. To date, this machine has been used to transport 1000s of trees over its lifetime. 

7. This beast can move some seriously big trees

And finally, this tree spade is yet another monster. Coming at 14 feet (4.26 m) tall and 70 feet (21 m) long, this machine is a true mega tree moving machine. Called the 125 foot "Bigger Digger", this is one of the biggest tree spades in the U.S. and the State of Colorado.

It is so huge, that it is able to move trees in excess of 40 feet (12.2 m) tall.

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