Our two options on the magnolia are to try to tilt it back to a reasonable uprightness, or to cut it down and replace it. It's a nice tree, and we've had it for a long time (since November, 2003). It survived living in a recycling box for a year during the foundation replacement. I'd really like to keep it.

So we decided to dig around it and tilt it back up.

Digging the channel

My first thought was that we might just be able to tilt it up by digging a trench around one side, but that proved not very successful.

Trench around the tree, and tree upright

Eventually we took the Bigger Hammer approach, digging all the way around the tree (though mostly on the side it was tilted towards), then using a cable and come-along to haul the tree back into the right orientation.

Tree in place

We got it a little beyond where we wanted it, then carefully backfilled the hole, watering the soil down to compress it as we went. I'll give the tree a day to settle in, then we can let it back a little, then maybe I'll have it spend the winter staked into place so it can put in some roots.

The project took most of the afternoon, as this sort of thing always does, even when you convince yourself it will go fast and easy.

posted by ayse on 10/08/11