The Curious Healing Power of Trees

In 1984, Roger Ulrich (who is now considered the most cited and influential evidence-based healthcare design researcher in the world) noticed a pattern in patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery: the patients who had rooms that looked out onto a patch of trees close to the hospital were being released from the hospital a day sooner, on average than others who had identical rooms, but whose windows faced a wall.

Do trees help people heal?

That is the question that a study in the journal Scientific Reports seeks to solve. The study, led by University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman, compares two large block-by-block data sets from the city of Toronto, Canada; the first data set measures the distribution of green space (as determined by satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of all 530,000 trees planted on public land, and the second data set measures health from detailed surveys of 94,000 respondents. After crunching the numbers, Berman and his group showed that for every ten trees on any given block, the nearby residents felt 1% healthier. Berman mentioned of the results, “To get an equivalent increase with money, you’d have to give each household in that neighborhood ten thousand dollars — or make people seven years younger.”

The most interesting point taken from the data is more subtle. These health benefits come almost entirely from trees planted along streets and in front yards, where people walk past them. Trees in back yards and parks didn’t seems to affect the analysis as much. It could be that trees along roads have a larger impact on air quality, or that avenues with trees encourage people to walk more. But Berman considers another possibility that is much like Ulrich’s window discovery…

Maybe it’s enough just to look at trees.

A decade prior, Berman led a study that sent volunteers on a 50-minute walk through either an arboretum or city streets, then gave them a memory and attention assessments. The volunteers who took the nature walk performed around 20% better than those who didn’t. They were also in a better mood, even if that didn’t affect their scores. “What we’re finding is that you don’t have to like the interaction with nature to get the benefits,” Berman said. Some of these walks took place in June, and others in January; most people didn’t particularly enjoy trudging through the cold Michigan winter, but their scores were just as high as in the summer trials. Volunteers who were somehow distracted or out of focus seemed to gain the biggest benefits. An end-of-workday nature walk packs a greater  punch than a similar walk first thing in the morning, and the boost is five times bigger in people who have been diagnosed with depression.

Ulrich’s work has already “directly impacted the design of many billions of dollars of hospital construction,” according to one health-care trade publication. One possibility may be that we rebuild our cities and move toward more colorful streetscapes and building with more organic patterns that simulate the ones we see in nature. Berman’s goal is a little less artistic: we wants people to plant more trees. The results of his experiment reveal a clear and consistent message. A walk in the woods is better than a picture of a tree, which is better than an abstract image, no matter how soothing. Something within us responds to nature. If someone offers you ten thousand dollars or ten trees, take the trees.

Transplanting vs Growing

Trees are an extremely important part of the human experience. While we may overlook them, the benefits of being around trees and having them around us are numerous. This is why we at BIG JOHN do what we do, at our core: we want to help people share in the benefits of trees.

But why should you want to transplant a tree instead of growing one yourself? We know that practically any tree of any species can be successfully transplanted. We can’t talk about the benefits of transplanting without talking about the benefits of trees, in general.

Trees make life better.

They reduce stress, help us recover from injury faster, help us remember more information, and can be used as living memorials and landmarks. They look great in landscaping and can make a house more comfortable and memorable. Every kid has a memory of climbing or playing in a tree. Your neighbors can benefit, too.

They help your community.

Tree-lined streets can help with traffic, since traffic on streets with trees tend to move slower and safer. They reduce noise from cars, can obscure views of busy streets, and make landscapes more aesthetically pleasing. There’s less graffiti, vandalism, and littering in outdoor spaces with trees as a part of the natural landscape, too. Landscaped yards look better.

They’re important to the environment.

We all know that trees give off oxygen. They also reduce the urban heat of things like dark, hot parking lots and buildings, improve air quality by filtering things out of the air such as carbon monoxide and sulfur (even indoors), reduce stormwater runoff, and reduce erosion and pollution in waterways, all while providing food, protection, and homes for many birds and mammals. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorb the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles.

They help save you money.

They can reduce cooling costs for your home, act as windbreaks (with evergreens), and increase your property value. Every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yields benefits that are two to five times that investment. You can’t get these benefits from young trees, though.

Why wait? Get the benefits now.

The benefits are obvious and thanks to BIG JOHN tree transplanters you can reap these benefits now instead of waiting for the trees to grow. Since practically any tree and be transplanted (even from one end of your yard to the other), you can customize your landscape however you want.

Shade your house, save some money, improve your community, and have a better looking yard with help from BIG JOHN.

Tree Transplant After Care

Need an information pamphlet to give to customers after a tree transplant or large tree installation that would give them information on follow up care of the tree? Do you have such information already? Items such as: watering – how much, how often; Staking – when to remove wire or web strap; fertilization- how soon, what type, how much?  Share your questions and suggestions here with other professionals including your location since environments vary.

BIG JOHN Had a Baby

For years, BIG JOHN users have asked for a lighter weight nursery digger designed to dig in prepared soil. BIG JOHN tree spades are known to tree movers around the world as heavy duty and capable of moving trees in tough soil conditions. BIG JOHN’s blade style and curvature is preferred by many tree movers because of the dual contour and digging capabilities.

Traditional BIG JOHN tree spades are here to stay and we will continue to meet the needs of tree movers that rely on their BIG JOHN tree spade to dig in tough soil conditions. As the BIG JOHN family keeps growing we look forward to offering more customized options to meet customer needs. We are proud to announce the first BIG JOHN nursery digger Model 44. The Model 44 is lightweight, hosts straight blades and is designed to dig in nursery soil conditions.

The Model 44 is also very affordable. Call Stephen at (800) 643–8039 to get more information and to see if a BIG JOHN is a good fit for your business.

Get Your Tree Spade Moving

Large tree transplanting has been slow, but is picking up! Check out these tips from a 27 year veteran tree mover that is making the most out of the current economic environment!

Did large tree transplanting tank for your business in 08-09? Are you looking for ways to increase your bottom line? Shine up your big tree spades and get moving with the following tips:

  • Hire someone with wholesale nursery knowledge to target business for your tree spades
  • Know your market and competition and make the most out of your area
  • Target arboretum cemeteries-they might need trees relocated as they grow and their trees are a very important part of their business
  • Target zip codes that can afford large trees- send a before and after picture postcard of a beautiful large tree you transplanted in the neighborhood you are targeting
  • Get to know upper end community maintenance supervisors and find out their needs
  • Visit private and government street maintenance facilities and let them know the services you offer
  • Seek out on-site digs instead of just focusing on new tree installations–a lot can come from these easy tree transplants
  • Who are your park officials? Do they know what your tree spade can offer their operations?
  • Get to know residential & commercial landscape architects in your area
  • Who is in charge of road projects in your area? Do they know you can relocate large trees on their current and future road projects?
  • Tap into the custom digging market-Use your BIG JOHN 90D to custom dig bag & burlap & transport to large metro areas
  • Get to know local nurseries that are cutting down or knocking over large trees they don’t have equipment to move, offer to dig & deliver those large trees to their clients and see if you can offer their trees to your clients.
  • There is as much money and less risk in moving trees with a spade

Five Tree Care Mistakes

Over Watering

Over Watering is the most common killer of trees.  It is important to point out that soil clays do not drain well and have a high capacity for storing water.  Plant roots require oxygen, which is lacking in wet soils.  Without adequate oxygen, the roots cannot function efficiently and will rot if the soil stays wet for extended periods of time.  Keeping the soil too wet or too dry is especially damaging to young trees, but too much water can kill a tree more quickly than too little. Water your trees as needed and not on a fixed schedule.

Grade Changes

Adding as little as two inches of soil over a tree’s root zone can lead to death from oxygen deficiency. Almost all of a tree’s feeder roots are in the top twelve inches of soil; the top six to eight inches for some species, such as Oaks and shallow-rooted species are especially susceptible to this type of damage.  Placing soil around a tree to make a raised flowerbed is slow but sure way to damage or kill the tree.


Broadleaf weed killers can also kill trees. They should be used with extreme caution, preferably not at all, over the root zone of any tree or other plant that you do not want to kill.  The same caution applies to weed-and-feed fertilizers.

Improper Pruning

When pruning, never leave stubs, which are an invitation to insects and disease. Trouble starts when the stubs begin to rot and the rot moves into larger limbs or the trunk. Always remove a limb back to its point of origin the trunk or other limbs. Cut just outside the bark “collar” at the base of the limb.  And remember, there is never any reason to “top” a tree.  This practice weakens the tree, destroys its natural shape, leads to weak and unsightly new growth that can break in high winds, and severely shortens the tree’s life.

Mechanical Injury

Many trees, especially young ones, are damaged by the careless use of lawn mowers and weed trimmers. Cutting the through the protective bark and into the cambium layer beneath the bark, interferes with the movement of water and nutrients and seriously weakens the tree.  The damaged area also provides entry for insects and diseases.

Tree Spade Insurance

BIG JOHN would like to provide a place for customers to discuss insurance rates for their tree spades. Please keep in mind that insurance varies state to state and this is a place to learn and share valuable information that could possibly save you money. BIG JOHN does not represent insurance companies or sell insurance. Please take this opportunity to learn and share from each other. We challenge you to be the first to represent your state!


I know that there are some of you that are considering the purchase of a tree transplanter from someone other than BIG JOHN. I thought I would take this opportunity to make the case for you buying from BIG JOHN. While price is always a consideration in any transaction I encourage you to consider the “value” aspect of your tree spade purchase.

While it is true that you may be able to purchase an off brand machine for less money it is hard to compare such purchases to the purchase of a BIG JOHN. Please consider the following when weighing which purchase would give you a more “valuable” Tree Spade:

  • Reputable Company with a proven track record.
  • Full Factory Warranty.
  • Parts Department; usually shipping the same day as order is received.
  • Service after the sale.
  • Constant pursuit of product improvement.
  • High Re-Sale Value.

Do the other companies offer these things? What about Mounting and Follow-Up Orientation Training; be aware of the pitfalls of buying from companies that are not TOTALLY committed to your satisfaction. Some build tree spades when it’s convenient for them. Still others build them without regard for warranty, parts or follow-up service. We are in this for the long run. Building tree spades and pod trailers is all we do.

With BIG JOHN you get a proven, reliable machine that has been constantly improved for over 20 years. When your unit leaves our facility it will be mounted and fully operational on your truck. The PTO & Pump will be spec’d to your transmission and will be delivering a constant flow of hydraulic fluid to your valve bank. You will have an expertly plumbed water system that will assist in the ease of digging as well as the increased survivability of your trees. The tree transplanter will come equipped with “Heat Treated Blades” and the “Hydraulic Transport Lock”, not to mention the many other features of the “D” series. In addition to all of that, you will receive a full factory warranty and follow up support that you can’t get anywhere else.

As we all know, equipment is going to need to be worked on and maintained from time to time. We here at the plant are available to assist you at any time. Our parts department is always available to ship replacement parts, usually the same day as ordering.

Gentlemen, we want your business. But beyond that, we want you to have a positive experience with your tree transplanting equipment. We feel that what BIG JOHN has to offer is the best way to ensure your success.

If you are considering a “starter” machine, purchasing a used tree transplanter is many times the best option. A used BIG JOHN Tree Transplanter is probably a better choice for a starter machine than an off brand, low budget tree spade. Call our Factory Direct Sales Force to ascertain if the equipment is suitable for your needs. Use caution in this area, as there are some spades out there that are working beyond their “service life”.

BIG JOHN Tree Transplanter Mfg., Inc. is a full service company that is committed to Total Customer Satisfaction. If you are interested in “Value”, High Quality, Service and Dependability, then BIG JOHN is the supplier for you. Please contact us to further discuss what BIG JOHN can do for you.

Buying New v. Buying Used

When contemplating the purchase of tree transplanting equipment it is important to remember the specialized nature of the tree moving business. The public is not as aware of “tree moving” as they are of say, stump grinding or tree trimming. This fact is one of the main reasons why “Image” is so important in Tree Transplanting. This equipment and what it does is highly specialized and should be presented as such.

When starting and maintaining a business, the professionalism that one presents can be the difference between success and failure. Or stated another way; between having a prosperous business and one that never really gets off the ground. An essential part of this professional image is equipment that is clean, well maintained and properly adjusted. The operator should be knowledgeable about the equipment as well as the trees that he is moving. He should present an image of neatness in dress and equipment. Smoking exhaust, oil leaks and filthy clothes are a sure fire way of undermining yourself, your business and the legitimacy of your mission.

Our most successful customers follow these basic guidelines. They are neat, their equipment is new or nearly new and they charge a fee that is commensurate with their level of professionalism. So, when thinking about starting a business, remember that getting started on the right foot is essential. First impressions ARE important! That’s why we recommend that you start with NEW equipment and a Professional approach. It’s your surest avenue to long term success.

Stop! Call BIG JOHN: (800)643-8039 before buying used!!!

In all likelihood we can help you find a better machine at a better value than you can find surfing the internet. We know of a person who purchased an 11 year old machine on a 15 year old truck for about $5,000 less than we could have sold him NEW, factory direct from BIG JOHN. Please speak to us before making your final purchase decision…we can and will do whatever is necessary to assist you.