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Rescuing Quercus Garryana

A Mahonia Nursery Sustainable Tradition

Mahonia Nursery is strongly committed to sustainability. For us, sustainability includes rescuing native oak trees that are destined for destruction because of development projects or the trees’ interference with existing structures. A healthy Oregon white oak has the potential to live at least 300 years. Rescuing oaks can help ensure they reach their full potential. When handled properly a rescued oak tree has a 90% chance to continue to thrive for many decades to come, providing valuable habitat for the threatened western gray squirrel and many varieties of birds including nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos, acorn pileated woodpeckers and goldfinches. In the second year after a rescued tree has been established in Mahonia Nursery, it is ready to be ‘adopted’ by those who are committed to cultivating Oregon’s natural heritage.

Trees with less than a 10 inch diameter trunk are perfect candidates for a successful rescue. Oaks must be transplanted during their dormant season to enable their survival. If you know of a tree that needs rescue, or if you are interested in adopting an Oregon white oak, please see our availability list and contact Mahonia Nursery with your questions. We will be happy to help.

Oak Rescue

Our 32″ tree spade.

These are some of the twenty-one Quercus garryana that we were asked to rescue on private property. Fortunately, the trees were very accessible. Only five were small enough to dig with our 32″ spade; the rest were dug by hand.

The two trees on the left were machine dug, then placed into burlap which was inside a wire basket. The wire basket is secured around the ball with twine, and the tree is planted as is in the basket.
Another picture of the spade in the field from a different angle. The trees are flagged with ribbon prior to digging.
One of the trees that was hand dug at this site. For the oaks, it’s more important to have a longer ball than is typical in the nursery industry.
Another tree about to be tied with string in the hole to keep the ball in tact while undercutting the tap root and lifting it out of the hole. Once out of the hole, the tree is burlapped, and a wire star basket is set around the burlapped ball for extra support during transport.
Another hand dug tree ball secured with twine prior to lifting it out of the hole.
This oak was tied with twine in the hole and lifted out with a forklift after the tap root was cut with the digging shovel. Then the burlap is wrapped tightly around the ball and retied with twine.
Tying the burlap around the ball.
Rescued Quercus and Arbutus on our trailer at the nursery waiting to be off loaded with the forklift. The balls are securely strapped down on the trailer for transport to the nursery.
Another view of the loaded trailer.
Carefully removing the trees from the trailer with the forklift and a strong fabric belt. Burlap is wrapped around the trunk to protect it as it’s lifted with the forklift.
A beautiful specimen Quercus garryana balled and burlapped and ready to be placed in the field along with our other rescued trees.
Newly dug trees are placed into a 32″ spaded hole which keeps them from falling over, leaving the burlap and basket intact around the rootball. Soil is shoveled in around the hole close to the ball and lightly packed to remove air pockets. Then the remaining part of the ball outside of the soil is covered with mulch. In the spring, an irrigation drip line will be added to each tree and the water carefully monitored.