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How to move a tree

With the right tools, anything is possible

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (October 24, 2018) – Today was moving day for the Blue Spruce that had been planted in Clock Tower Plaza years ago and was traditionally used as the Village Christmas Tree. The tree was located directly under some electrical wires, so the top had to be trimmed off each year, and it was losing the standard Christmas-tree look. Park District Senior Superintendent Sharon Desjardins considered simply replacing the tree, but this Blue Spruce had been donated by a resident. As Mayor Patty Eidam’s plans for the Santa House began to be realized, Desjardins offered to have the Christmas tree moved to the Santa House campus. “Because the current location was the mistake of the park district,” explained Desjardins, “the park district offered to pay the entire cost of moving the tree.” The Village gladly accepted.

Though it’s not every day that Lansing residents and businesses see a Blue Spruce crossing Ridge Road, for Arbor Care, Inc., the process was pretty straightforward. Based in Frankfort, Illinois, they provide services like these to municipalities, educational institutions, park districts, and individual residents throughout the area. Here’s what today’s job involved:

1. Mark the spot

Last week, Village officials chose a spot that would allow the Christmas tree festivities and Santa traditions to complement each other. The spot was marked in preparation for moving day. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

2. Dig the hole

Arbor Care, Inc., from Frankfort, Illinois, has a giant mechanical spade they use for jobs like this. To dig a hole this size in this type of soil by manpower would have taken a crew 6–8 hours.

3. Save the dirt

Arbor Care also has a giant bucket for putting the extracted dirt in:

We’ll be needing this bucket of dirt later. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

4. Mark the hole

Even though the new hole seems large enough for people to avoid, Arbor Care was careful to place pylons and barricades around it…
…before heading down Henry Street toward Clock Tower Plaza. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

5. Get the tree

Mayor Eidam, Village Clerk Vivian Payne, and Communications Director Ken Reynolds arrived in time to watch the Christmas tree being removed from Clock Tower Plaza.

After pausing at the traffic light, the Arbor Care truck—and its Blue Spruce passenger—crossed Ridge Road on their way back to the Santa House campus. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Matt Spesia from Arbor Care tossed the trimmed branches and other biodegradable debris into the hole. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

8. Replant the tree

With all the gentleness that a giant piece of machinery can muster, Arbor Care positioned the Blue Spruce into its new home.

Michelle Havran (Superintendent of Parks and Maintenance), Vivian Payne (Village Clerk), and Ken Reynolds (Village Communications Director) documented the moment. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

9. Fill the hole

Paul Beebe is the owner of Arbor Care. He and Matt Spesia, a certified arborist with the company, picked up the bucket of dirt they had been saving and brought it over to Clock Tower Plaza to fill the hole left by the transplanted tree.

10. Feed the tree

Arbor Care Owner Paul Beebe (left) helps Matt Spesia ensure that the transplanted tree will have enough nutrients to get through the winter. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
In addition to flooding the existing roots with a bionutrient, Spesia also injected a steroid that will help new roots grow. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
While straightening out the branches of the transplanted tree, Spesia found a remnant of Christmases past. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Matt Spesia believes the tree will not suffer any ill effects from today’s move; in fact, he believes it has a better chance of thriving in this new location. By soaking the roots in nutrients and providing a steroid boost for new growth, Arbor Care has essentially upgraded the old tree. Spesia says fall is an excellent season for transplanting, as winter soil retains moisture longer than is possible in the summer. The transplanted spruce will need watering only once or twice this year. Arbor Care will return in the spring to check on the tree’s progress and to apply another round of bionutrients.

“Our sincere thanks to the Lan-Oak Park District for their generous offer and execution of uprooting the tree from its former site near the Clock Tower and relocating it to near the Santa House. It was a fascinating process to watch!” reads a post on the Village of Lansing Facebook page. “We look forward to this wonderful addition enhancing the Santa House experience during the upcoming 2018 holiday season.”

“With the weather cooperating, today was a perfect day to move the tree, and Arbor Care was ready to go,” said Sharon Desjardins. “The tree was gently and successfully moved to a beautiful and appropriate location right next to the new Santa House—an area that the community will enjoy for years to come. The park district is proud to have helped make this project possible.”


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.