A tree spade is a specialized machine that mechanizes the transplanting of large plants whose hand-powered transplanting using traditional spades, wagons, and other equipment would be prohibitively laborious. These include large bushes and small or medium trees up to about 45 ft. By bringing mechanized power to what was formerly only a manual process, tree spades do for transplanting what tractors and combine harvesters do for agriculture, and what excavators and other heavy equipment do for construction.
A typical machine consists of a number of blades that encircle the tree, digging into the ground and then lifting the entire tree, including its roots and soil, out of the ground and replanting or transplanting the whole tree in the designated area.
The machines can be mounted on a tractor or loader for moving trees a short distance, or on the back of a truck for relocating trees over the highway a long distance away. For transport on public roads, the spade tilts the tree to a near-horizontal position in order to clear overhead bridges and cables.
And yes, it’s expensive!
And if you don’t have access to an expensive tree spade behemoths – or you want to make really sure you have clipped off the end of the roots — use an air spade. Using highly pressurized air (Mach 2!), an air spade can blast through soil and dirt without damaging tree roots or utility lines.