Salvaging Partially Uprooted Trees

Profitable fruit trees must bear a heavy load. Young trees, small trees, trees with a good framework and least damaged trees are most worth salvaging. Tilted trees are in no immediate danger, but should be repaired as soon as possible. Peach trees, old trees and trees which are crowded or will crowd within 10 years are probably not worth salvage time and expense. If roots are one-third to one-half exposed, saving the tree is difficult.

Assemble Equipment

  • Tractor (preferably a crawler type)—An automobile wrecker will also work. A block and tackle will serve for smaller trees if a tractor is not available.
  • Rope, 1-inch thick or larger—Chains may be used, but they require extra padding.
  • Padding material—burlap bags, rubber hoses or inner tubes
  • Wire (#9) and small cables
  • Heavy screw eyes
  • Stakes or posts
  • Shovel, saw, axe, pliers and similar tools

Proceed as Follows:

  • Put wet burlap bags or a wet mulch on exposed roots to keep roots from drying.
  • Dig a hole as wide and deep as necessary to replace roots exactly where they were.
  • Get stakes, "dead men" and wire ready for anchoring. Each tree will need at least 3 guy lines.
  • Pad a central leader branch with burlap bags or rubber hoses.
  • Attach the rope or chain well up on the branch, and put tractor, tackle or auto wrecker into position.
  • With a steady pull, lift tree to a vertical position. Do not twist the tree while raising it. If you need to lift and straighten a tree, place an 8-foot rigid wooden X-shear under the rope or chain.
  • Hold the tree in position while soil is shoveled in and tamped down.
  • Tamp soil firmly around the roots.
  • Anchor the tree securely. Place "dead man" or anchors (buried at least 18 inches) so that ordinary winds from any direction will not make the tree sway. Pad the wire so it doesn't cut into the wood. Do not attach wire to branches which are to be removed in later pruning.
  • Mulch salvaged trees with old hay or other vegetation to prevent excessive drying of roots. To prevent winter injury, salvage trees with exposed or surface roots before cold weather. Do not prune until the following growing season. Usually, three men with a tractor can salvage one tree an hour.