August/September 2007 SunTimes:

They hated to lose the beautiful native trees established on their building envelope. Once the trees were cut down, the cost involved in re-landscaping appeared prohibitive. That’s when Fred Mattison’s ingenuity took over. The Mattison’s located and hired the only tree relocating company in the state, Big Trees Inc. based in Snohomish.

In April, Big Trees saved eleven of the Mattison’s large trees using a Peterbuilt semi equipped with a giant spade capable of lifting a 40’ tall, 10” diameter tree from the ground and planting it in another location. “The cost incurred to move our large trees, hire assistance to move 40 smaller trees by hand, and install a drip irrigation system was very reasonable. We probably saved $20,000 to $30,000. The great thing is that where we moved the trees will add additional buffer between the house and the road,” says Fred Mattison.

Mattison initially brought the idea to Suncadia’s Design Review Committee who enthusiastically supported the project as one in keeping with Suncadia’s environmental stewardship mission. Because of the twice-daily irrigation needed to re-establish the relocated trees and shrubs, a Suncadia crew quickly installed a water meter on the Mattison homesite.

Prior to moving the large trees, Mattison and a small crew spent a day hand digging and repositioning forty 3’ to 4’ native trees and shrubs from the building envelope, creating space for Big Trees’ equipment to maneuver and accomplish their relocation task. Then Big Trees arrived and began their work. Once the new location was selected for each tree, the tree spade dug the hole, removing eight to nine cubic yards of surrounding dirt with a single lift. After the spade lifted out the tree, it was tipped on its side and moved to its new home. Mattison labored alongside the Big Trees crew during their eight hours on-site, assisting with the snaking and cabling. Each tree will remain staked or cabled for a year until the root system is substantial. “Big Trees did 99% of the work. But it was a good workout for me,” says Mattison. “I worked my tail off that day.”

Mattison installed a battery-operated irrigation timer to keep the soil properly moist in his absence. He also follows a monthly fertilizing program using Big Trees’ organic compost. “With the exception of the organic compost and some mulch we had brought in to help keep the soil damp, we used everything from the site to get this landscaping project done,” says Mattison proudly. “We expected to lose several of the trees, especially the smaller pines because of their tap root structure and minimal surface roots, all but one are healthy…Big Trees was absolutely wonderful to work with. They help me as a novice get this done. Their great crew of three knew exactly what they were doing and how to make sure the trees live.”

Now Mattison has moved on to his home building project. The foundation has been poured and he hopes to get his metal roof installed by October. The home, complete with mature landscaping, will be finished in June. To contact Big Trees, call Ross Latham at 360-563-2700 or see