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Planting Norway Spruce 5' - 6'

Post in 'The Gear' started by Joful, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm looking to plant about 40 Norway spruce one weekend this spring, and fishing for opinions on what equipment will get it done with the least pain to me and my wallet. The trees will likely be 5 footers with 24" diameter x 18" high balls. Options considered are:

    1. Hire out the entire job.
    2. Hire out just the digging portion of the job.
    3. Rent a tree spade.
    4. Rent a skid steer with a 36" or 48" auger (if I can even find one local).
    5. Buy or rent a smaller PTO auger for my Deere 855 (25 hp CUT with class 1 hitch).

    If I use a smaller auger on the Deere (what diameter can you drive with 19 hp at the PTO?), I would be drilling several smaller holes at each planting, and then cleaning out with a hand shovel. Lots of work, but if I owned the auger, I could spread the work out over a few days or weekends. In all cases (unless I hire out the entire job), I could move the trees around using the front end loader on my Deere. If I don't have an auger on the Deere, I could also move an extra tree or two in each trip across the property using a platform on the rear 3-point.

    I have no idea what hiring out part or all of this job would cost, nor a great feel for how much of my time any of the options above might require.

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  2. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    What's the soil like Joful? Rocky? Clay?

    Clay will stick to an auger like glue. Rocks will be a major pain with a large auger as well.
    The 855 isn't going to like a 24" auger in anything but beach sand.

    If the soil allows, I'd use the skid steer with an auger. Maybe even see if they have a set of nursery forks to go with it.

    Tree Spade is kinda overkill since you don't need to transplant the trees.

    If the soil is real tough, you might be better off just renting a mini-excavator and digging the holes out that way.
  3. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    The soil here is good (been a farm since at LEAST 1773), but a little on the wet side where I'll be planting (hence the Norways). No rocks, but likely many roots, as these will go along an existing tree line.

    Local place rents a small spade for stuff this size, but its $500/day. I only need to transport 500 - 700 feet, for which a bucket or forks will do fine.

    Will check the price on renting amino excavator. And to think, I turned down a 750 with a backhoe to buy this 855. :lol:
  4. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

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    Well around here a tractor gets 80 per hour...may be worth it
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Backhoe for $250 for the weekend. Use it for a few hours one day to get the job done and then find about 172 other things to do that it'd handy for... then wish you just owned the darn thing!
    milleo likes this.
  6. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I've planted literally thousands of the trees you describe....mostly with a shovel.:mad:

    I would hire all of it out, or none of it out. If you hire just the digging you'll end up with a lot of holes too big (extra back filling) or too small (extra hand-digging).

    The problem with a tree spade is all the extra dirt you have to get rid of. If you dig it with a shovel or hoe it's a lot easier to taper it out around the tree...rather than one huge chunk of tightly packed dirt.

    Augers aren't good for tree planting because you want a hole that's narrower at the bottom than the top so you can get enough dirt under the root ball to make good contact. If there's a void with no dirt your tree has a much better chance of not surviving. Your tractor isn't going to turn a 48" auger anyway (your in 100+ HP territory there).

    If I were renting, I'd get a mini excavator. You can do a 24 hour rental on one for about $150 - $200 around here.

    Measure, mark, and stake the locations...dig the holes...then return the rental. You can then plant them at your leisure.

    As a side note, Norway's in good soil are going to push off 8"-18" inches of growth a year...make sure you plant them with adequate spacing for future growth. They also like well drained soil, so if you have areas that lay wet avoid planting them there or improve the drainage before you do.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Wow... thanks guys! I chose the Norway, because I've read many times it's the best conifer for wetter soils. This area doesn't typically have any standing watter, but it can be soft or muddy in fall and early spring. My uncle is a landscape architect, and familiar with my property. When I called him for advice, he confirmed what I had already decided for myself... Norway Spruce is the ideal choice for a hedgerow in my location.

    I had originally planned to plant on 16 foot centers, knowing Norways can get quite big (120' - 150' tall and 40' - 50' diameter at end of life), but was talked into closer spacings. Again, my uncle who has likely had millions of these things planted suggested two staggered rows on 10' spacings. His reasoning was that I want blockage NOW, and going more sparse than 10' won't give me good coverage for several more years. If left alone, these will start to lose some lower branches as they crowd out 20 years from now, but I can (if it still matters to me) always thin the rows and plant a third row of smaller trees at that time.

    Some of the tree planting augers I've looked at are narrower at the bottom than the top. I can't remember what they call them, but something like piloted augers. Looked real slick for something like this, but as I suspected, I don't have the HP to turn one. I'm surprised that all I find for cat.1 hitches is 1:1 gearbox augers. With a gearbox running perhaps 4:1, I'd think I could turn a pretty big auger

    Will check on mini excavator rentals. For some reason I had in my head that the rental price was 2x - 3x the $150 - $200 you quoted.
  8. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I planted 2 staggered rows of norway seedlings on 6' centers with the intention of cutting out every other one of them sometime down the line when they get big enough.

    I've seen the augers you are talking about...but they aren't common and I think you'd have a real hard time finding one to rent.

    As long as you don't have standing water for periods of time they should be OK. I've just had people insist on planting stuff in a swamp and wonder why they died.

    Sounds like your uncle is giving good advice...probably better than mine.
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Not at all! All of the advice is appreciated. Glad to hear the 10' centers is not "at the limit". I was a little concerned going that close, but did agree that 16' centers would take several years to give me the desired blockage with only two rows.
  10. basod

    basod Minister of Fire

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    Is there a reason to go with the 5-6' trees? I guess you want the blocking quicker.
    Most all transplantings take till about year 3 before taking off.

    Not sure if Leyland Cypress will grow in your area but they are fast growing down here and seedlings are fairly cheap
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I planted a Norway Spruce last year, hoping it survived the winter.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Leyland Cypress does grow great here, but it's hard to control, and doesn't seem to like wetter soils.
  13. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I have a Toro Dingo with a 14" bit. It drives the bit well without stalling. I've planted many small trees with this .
    I've seen up tp 36" bits for these machines.

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  14. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Little powerhouses they are. Rented one configured as a trencher. Ripped through shale installing drainage under a golf course fairway. Did the work of a much larger machine.
  15. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    You don't realize how many uses they have until you own one with a bunch of attachments. I like the tranportability of it with a 3500lb single axle trailer also. It gets used between the shop and store which are 10 miles apart. Pulled behind an S-10 shop truck.
    I've never checked rental fees but I'd bet they'd be half of a skid steer. The lifting capacting may be an issue with bagged and balled 5' trees.
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm definitely going to check into one of these. Lifting capacity is no problem, as I have a 3000 lb. tractor with front-end loader to move the trees.
  17. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Okay... I found something. One local place has a skidsteer (tires) with a 36" auger for $300/day. Might be my best option.

    Dig and set one or two trees, to be sure I'm happy with my hole depth, etc. Then plunk the other 38 holes and return the machine.
    MasterMech likes this.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Hey... just wondering... why the recommendations for a mini excavator? I can rent a tractor with backhoe, which will be much friendlier to my lawn, for about the same money.

    Also, for those who have done this... 36" auger vs. hoe bucket? I can't imagine why you'd want to dig with a bucket, if you can get an auger, but maybe I just don't know.
  19. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Auger for sure. Bottom of the hole will be flat and the dirt will be ground up real fine and easy to work with when you need to fill in.
    MasterMech likes this.
  20. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    I planted about 20 blue spruce by hand with my dad 50 years ago around the house. Cut 'em all down this year. Spaced too tight and too close to the house. Take a few years to start, but then they bolt.
  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I had called a pro two days ago, thinking it would be good to have an idea of price before I made the call on doing it myself, but he hasn't returned my call. Much like the guy who was supposed to come out and pull 7 stumps from my yard and prune two trees, six weeks ago, but never showed. Damn contractors...

    In any case, I have found pricing mentioned online, for $20 - $30 per hole. That puts the job at $800 - $1200 for the digging alone, and I can rent a skidsteer with 36" auger and a 5 ton trailer for $400/day. Sounds like I'll be doing it myself!
  22. Utilitrack

    Utilitrack Feeling the Heat

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    Don't forget to call 811 to get the utilities marked in your intended area of excavation!
  23. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yep! Done, and done...
  24. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    Joful, check with the rental house for the "Weekend deal". We give you Sat & Sunday for a 1 day charge with 8 hrs. of usage over 8 hrs and there is an added usage fee.
  25. Nixon

    Nixon Minister of Fire

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    I use a 12" bit on my kubota . It has 24 pto hp . But basically i run it just off idle in rocky soil . So, your tractor at 19 pto hp should be fine .

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