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Air spade work pricing and effectiveness

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by 503mckinney, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. 503mckinney

    503mckinney ArboristSite Lurker

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    Anyone have a feel for what this work should cost per tree? Service provider has to travel roughly 1 hour to get to site and I need 3 trees done. I planted them to deep in the mid 90’s and now have realized the issue so want to address it.

    thanks
     
  2. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    25 years ago - they may be too far gone???

    Are there bad stem girdling roots? That could take an hour or two per tree. Or do you just need to have the root collar exposed?
     
  3. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I price air spading based on an $1800 day. 3 trees, perform root collar excavation, prune girdling roots, 4 hours, or $900 plus tax. If soil amendments are being used figure a bit more.
     
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  4. ArtB

    ArtB ArboristSite Operative

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    How about effectiveness?
    Grandson is starting out and may be interested in adding air-spading to his repertoire, if anything other than a 'gimmick'? No big investments as already have a big towable compressor for construction uses.

    I'd think (often do think wrong) that something planted 25 years ago would have a pretty well self-established root system unless someone has run a 20 ton truck around the tree for a few days.

    Also, for something 25 years old, would not simple mulch and watering schedule do the same within a couple of years?
    Or <G> importing a few moles or box of earthworms?
     
  5. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Air spading is more about improving compacted soils to improve future root growth and allow the growth of fine root hairs.
    Most use mulch or wood chip to prevent compaction from returning.
    Think of the fluff and duff you have on a forest floor vs what you have in your lawn.
    Trees don’t like lawn or the things that make a lawn look nice.
     
  6. 503mckinney

    503mckinney ArboristSite Lurker

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    Wow Davie Tree quoted me 3100 for 3 trees. That’s a huge difference. They do have to drive a hour each way but still
     
  7. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    There are 2 things being discussed here now....both use the same tool, but are not the same:

    1) Root Collar Excavation (or RCX) is done to correct problems associated with trees being planted to deep or mulch piled too high. Sounds like that is what the OP is asking about. This is VERY effective if caught early enough. I'd be concerned that a 25 year old tree either has too many SGR (stem girdling roots) to deal with while still leaving some roots in place OR, there isn't much of a problem there. If the later, then it should be pretty quick to just blow off the root collar and call it a wrap. I will sometimes offer a lower price to do that so I can get a better idea of what is down there - the client understands it is just exploratory. Then if it is more than a few cuts with hand pruners, I will come back with another price to do the pruning.
    Here was a pretty nasty one I opened up a couple of weeks ago:
    2220 A.jpg

    2) De-compaction is done to alleviate compacted soil allowing better air and water penetration. This can also be very effective. Just mulching over time may accomplish the same thing over a very long period of time. If the tree is starting to decline, it may not have time to wait. I certainly recommend mulching after an area is decompacted with air excavation.

    It is a very good tool, but like any other tool it can be mis-used, oversold, and cannot be expected to solve everything. But like many tools, when it is the right tool, there is nothing better. If somebody wants to be in plant health care focused on trees, I think it is as essential as a sprayer - some have argued even more-so than a sprayer (which is another tool...as above). If he already has a compressor, that makes it an even more obvious choice.
     
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  8. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Sounds right. Shop around - but I know it can be hard to find somebody doing this work. $3100 is out of line. It isn't going to take 1 worker a day - whether the drive is 2 miles or 2 hours.

    But first know what they are expecting to accomplish!
     
  9. 503mckinney

    503mckinney ArboristSite Lurker

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    Yes that’s correct these trees were planted to deep and they don’t know how bad the roots have grown up around the trunk of the tree till they remove the dirt to see. Problem I have is Davie tree is the only company I can find to do the work. Any idea how to find someone else in my area? I have searched the internet but haven’t been able to find much. This is for Guernsey county Ohio. Thanks
     
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  10. ArtB

    ArtB ArboristSite Operative

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    How about using a pressure washer with a vacuum suction instead of air?

    Have seen our local poco dig around gas and power lines with water pressure washer and big vacuum suction to dig 8 ft deep holes.

    Would the water from a pressure washer just result in a more ompact soil, or not?
     
  11. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Like ATH said, I’m talking about root collar excavation, which would be the general recommendation for trees that are planted too deep.
    Full airspading our to the drip line with mulch and soil amendments is another thing all together. Most of the big 3 around 300-350 per hour so I can see $3100 being a price they would charge for a long day or a day and a couple of hours the next.
     
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  12. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Try the ISA website for other certified arborists in your area.
    ATH and Jason D are in Ohio I believe. Not sure if they are close to you though.
     
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  13. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Is Davey coming down from Kent? Is $3100 a firm price or a "not to exceed" price? RCX is and root pruning is difficult to quote without seeing what is going on down there. They may open it up and find very little. Did they dig around by hand before quoting? Can you post a pic?

    There are others around. Hey @Jason Douglas - know anybody with an AirKnife or AirSpade east of Columbus that would go to Guernsey County?

    You might contact Lola Lewis (Urban Forester with ODNR - Division of Forestry) to ask if she knows of anybody local. http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/urban/contact

    Pretty sure McCullough's has one and they have an office in Zanesville 740.454.1789 - but that doesn't necessarily mean they have the Air Spade at that location?

    I'm in NW Ohio so drive time would be killer...not $3,100 kind of killer (I'd spend a day for less than that - but I'm currently swamped up here!)
     
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  14. 503mckinney

    503mckinney ArboristSite Lurker

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    No I wish I took pics before I left but can tell you that all three were planted around 1995 before I knew how to plant seedlings which is why they have issues now. 2 of the trees show no signs of their root collar but the dirt around them is level. The worst tree appears to have a sort of dirt mound around it which I assume is root girdling. This mound has definitely gotten worse in past few years. I will follow the leads you provided to see what else I can find out. Thank you as I sincerely appreciate the help.
     
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  15. 503mckinney

    503mckinney ArboristSite Lurker

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    Hello ATH,

    Just wanted to say thank you. I ended up speaking with both Brian at McCullough's and Lola which both were very helpful. Brian gave me a price that is much better than Davey so i'm very happy and now can afford the job. Thanks again.
     
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  16. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Great! Glad it worked out! :)
     

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