MOVING AZALEA HEDGE

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Posted by Richard Snead on April 13, 2003 at 08:15:38:

I have a hedge of azaleas ~30' long, having ~10 plants in it, all of them about 12-15 years old. The largest plants are ~5ft high and equally wide. That's the problem - it has overgrown a walkway. Cutting the plants back enough to clear the walk will cut back one side very near the main stems, and I suspect ruin the plants. So I want to move the whole thing. My hedge is on a southern exposure and the plants are quite healthy

What I'm looking for is a judgement on a method of moving this hedge. I'm looking for experience with innovative solutions to these kinds of problems. Here's my idea:

The hedge is actually on a slight grade, sloping away from my house. The main stems of the plants are ~8ft away from the house's foundation. The base soil here is clay. Since azaleas are shallow rooted, and since the slope allows access, I'm thinking I can dig down into the clay base, then use a high-pressure hydroblast rig to undercut the hedge. Beforehand I would dig down on the house side all along the hedge, use 2x12s or the like to build a strong backboard, then push the whole hedge away from the house and down the slope. To push it I would use steel screw jacks perhaps - the kinds you used to see folks use to jack up sagging beams in the basements of old homes - anchored against the house's foundation. The wet clay will be slippery, so the cut-free piece of soil-and-shrubs should slide OK. I'm thinking that the dense clay base soil beneath the plants will be cohesive enough to hang together, so that it all moves in one piece. Too much to hope for?

One thing that concerns me is how to open up enough freedom for movement of the hydroblaster's wand beneath the plants. Seems like I might have to progressively drive boards of some kind underneath and pry the mass up just enough to permit the cutting - I don't know. This is one of the areas where I was looking for some experienced advice.

Thoughts? Am I nuts?

Rich

P.S. My home is in a subdivision. I don't think there is enough room between my and my neighbor's house to get a truck or similarly large piece of hydraulic equipment in position to undercut and lift the hedge. So I'm looking at the manual approach.

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