It’s Crazy to Move a Hundred-Year-Old Tree, But This One Is Thriving | Smart News | Smithsonian
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It’s Crazy to Move a Hundred-Year-Old Tree, But This One Is Thriving

There's controversy surrounding the oak's new home, but park or no park, the Ghirardi Oak is staying, and the transport seems to have been a success

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In June of last year, the 100 year old Ghirardi Compton Oak was relocated. The tree is 56 feet tall, 100 feet wide and 135 inches around. The whole thing took about a month. Here’s a video documenting the process:

League City, Texas, where the Oak is from, documented every step:

The contractor started by hydrating, fertilizing and pruning the tree.  They have also took soil samples from the current location and the new location.  For the excavation process they cut a trench around the tree; an engineered distance from the root ball.  The sides of a “tree box” were hand carved and tapered down to create a custom “planter box” for the tree.  Crews dug tunnels under the “tree box” so the bottom sections of the box can be installed, one by one.  Once all bottom sections were installed, 4 steel beams were placed under the bottom of the tree box and lifted by 2 cranes.  The cranes placed the tree on a steel plate that was drug down a grass corridor to the new location.  Two bulldozers and two excavators pulled the skid and one bulldozer controlled the back end.  Once the tree arrived in its new location, the process was reversed.

But ten months after relocation, how is the tree doing? Often tree location projects fail, when the tree doesn’t take root in its new soil. As far as one local blogger can tell, however, the Ghirardi Oak isn’t planning on croaking any time soon. He writes:

Checked with the city arborist and those keeping an eye on the old tree.

The experts say it’s setting in well.

Getting plenty of rain water (irrigation system used as needed) and nutritious snacks.

The spring leaves are expected soon.

It’s doing OK according to them.

Honestly, the oak tree looks  little rough – not just the bark. (But who doesn’t after the holidays?)

But, as with any town event, not everyone is pleased. The Ghiardi Oak is part of a new park that will be built on the site called the Ghirardi WaterSmart Park. The idea is to build three-acres of park that used very little water, to spread the word in water-scarce Texas about some alternative grading techniques. But residents didn’t feel like the park was fun enough, reports Your Houston News:

Councilman Dan Becker called the project a “flawed concept” and opposed using federal grants.

“My concept of a park is a playground, picnic tables, barbecue pits, volleyball nets and things of that nature,” he said. “What we’ve done here is figure out how to take money out of other taxpayers’ pockets, bring it here and essentially waste $685, 000. So we all go deeper in debt and mortgage the children who should be enjoying this park in the future. I’ve got a real problem with that.”

Thankfully, no one seems to be opposed to the oak, since it cost a pretty penny to move and likely wouldn’t fare well on another journey. So park or no park, the Ghirardi Oak is staying, and the transport seems to have been a success.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Trouble With Trees
Turn Your Dead Christmas Tree Into Beer

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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