If you need to move many large trees at once, you can easily do so on a flat bed truck. But in order to make sure that the trees survive transport and that other vehicles are safe on the road around you, you need to make sure the trees are secure on the truck. Caring for the trees as you drive can ensure that no tree dies as a result of the stress that comes from shipping. Follow these guidelines for safe tree transport.
1. Use a breathable tarp system.
Transporting trees can be tricky because they need to be covered with a tarp in order to prevent foliage loss as you reach higher speeds. Never move trees without covering them, or they will lose too much foliage in the wind of travel, stripping the trees of needed leaves. The leaves are essential to help a tree recover from being transplanted, so losing them puts the whole tree at risk—a major financial loss.
However, if you use a solid tarp, the tarp can trap heat and transpiration, cooking the trees in the sun as they lay on the truck bed. Instead, the tarp system must be breathable. Look for a mesh tarp in a neutral color. A tarp that is too dark will attract heat. A green or taupe-colored tarp will not not absorb as much energy from the sun, keeping the trees cooler during transport.
2. Load the trees strategically to prevent breaking.
You also need to make sure that you load the trees correctly. The top of the tree should always lie backward over the bed of the truck, with the foliage facing the rear of the trailer or truck bed and the root ball pointed toward the engine area. This position works with the flow of air as the truck moves, preserving more branches and foliage. If you place the trees in other positions, you risk breaking off branches or losing more leaves with the force of motion.
You also can use trees to brace each other. Begin at the back of the truck bed, laying two or three trees down at an angle. Then, rest the trunks of two or three more trees on the root ball of the first row. With several rows of trees, they hold each other onto the bed itself, and the trunks are protected by the support of the root balls of the preceding row. The shade of the foliage of the trees also traps more moisture into the root balls supporting them, keeping the root more viable for transplant. You'll have minimal damage following this pattern.
When strapping trees down, only lay straps over the covered root balls of the trees. Do not wrap straps around the trunks of trees. The straps can gouge the bark, and this can cause irreparable damage to young trees. They will be more vulnerable to disease and insect infestations. The trunk can heal itself, but the tree trunk will have a scar, which can affect the aesthetic appeal of the tree. Since some trees function mostly to beautify a landscape, trunk scarring can be a deterrent for buyers.
3. Stop for water along the way.
Finally, trees need water. If you have more than few hours ahead of you on the road, stop to spray down the trees with some water to keep the leaves and roots moist. This way, the trees will be healthier when you reach the tree farm or nursery for delivery. As you unload the the trees, give each root ball a healthy dose of water.
For more information on tarp systems, contact a business who specializes in custom tarp systems, like Glider Systems Inc.
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