January 15, 2009
By Allan Dennis
As a boy, Adam Novak spent much of his time after school wrapping tree balls for his father, Stan, who owned and operated Novak Property Maintenance in Waterdown. The skills learned as a youth came in very handy when Adam’s company was hired to move a giant tree from Maple Leaf Tree Farm in Flamborough to a Burlington residence, a distance of about eight kilometres.

“I know all about the logistics of moving trees,” says Adam. But moving a 22-ton tree took all the skill he accumulated since his days of spending time in the nursery after school, and the professional help from many other trades people and three generations of Novaks, Stan, Adam and his sons Clark and Brock. Novak Property Maintenance has been a member of LO since 1997.

About two years passed between the time Novak’s client requested the tree to the day it was planted. “My client had lost a large tree, and wanted it replaced with one of a similar size. The perfect tree had to match the requirements for the property and be of size that  was still possible to transport under the many lines along the route, said Adam.” It also couldn’t block the view from the house.

Once the stump was removed and all the utilities were looked after, the giant maple’s new home was readied for its tenant. Adam noted that another complication was a Bell line that ran just three feet away from the old tree. Ideal Excavating of Burlington was a big help both in digging around the utilities and digging up the tree.

“The shape of the tree had to be just perfect and straight. We were so fortunate to find a good healthy tree that fit all the requirements,” said Heidy Novak, vice-president of Novak Property Maintenance and Adam’s wife.

The next part of the job was the extraction of the tree from Maple Leaf Tree Farm. A 60-foot crane was required, but it was soon decided that not just one crane would do to move the giant. Along with equipment, some plain old hand work was needed. While a backhoe was used to dig some of the hole, the tree ball was hand shaved and the roots were hand pruned.

The job took more than 2,000 feet of manila rope and 100 metres of burlap. Adam spent time searching for a supplier of manila rope to bind the tree ball. It turned up in his own back yard, at a factory in Hamilton. “We cleaned them out of all the rope they had in stock,” says Adam.

The height of the tree when laid flat on the transport truck was 17 feet. Adam noted that at times they only had a few inches clearance under wires. The two cranes, along with a great deal of skill and patience, positioned the tree on the flatbed ready for the move.

After delivering the tree to its Burlington home, the maple was placed in its new location in soil prepared by Adam. Use of manila rope and burlap allowed the ball to remain intact, and these natural materials will eventually erode.

Adam and Heidy are very proud of their success in planting the tree. Adam says it will take about eight years for the tree to fully establish itself in the new location. “There should be no problems with the tree surviving. This tree will have no problem establishing itself,” says Adam.

Both Adam and Heidy agree that, “This was truly a challenge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

From left, Adam Novak, Matt Archer and Peter Archer standing in front of crane.
From left, Stan, Clark, Brock and Adam, three generations of Novak family.