Published Feb 26, 2021
In HVAC & Facility Maintenance


400-ton crane extends over hotel to set resort’s fully grown palm trees

Not all landscaping jobs are created equal. Some are so big—and so complex—you need to call in a really big gardener. That’s what an established resort hotel on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, discovered when it needed to plant 20 new palm trees as part of a landscaping refresh.

The project’s general contractor called in ALL Sunshine Crane Rental of Orlando, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, to provide a 400-ton crane for the job.                                            

The project’s main challenge? The crane couldn’t get anywhere near the actual planting site. The resort property is well-landscaped and tightly designed, leaving no room for a crane to enter. That required placing a higher-capacity machine on the other side of the hotel, away from the pick zone.

The operator would be picking and setting completely blind because a nine-story hotel was between him and the palm trees.

“This is where having an experienced operator in the cab is crucial,” said T.J. Wicklander, general manager of ALL Sunshine Crane Rental. “Matt Roess got the call. He’s been with us for 26 years and has the experience and steady hand this job required.”

The palm trees, each approximately 20 feet tall and weighing 9,000 pounds, arrived by flatbed. Roess operated a Liebherr LTM 1350-6.1 all-terrain crane configured with 82 feet of main boom and 217 feet of luffing jib. The lift radius put Roess approximately 245 feet away from the trees he was lifting, with the hotel blocking his view. The boom and jib had to reach up and over the hotel to set the palms near the resort’s pool area.

Another member of the ALL team was positioned near the lift zone, staying in constant radio contact with Roess to complete each tree planting.

Also critical to the success of the operation was the rigging of the trees. There are special considerations, as there is no convenient place to hook onto that won’t damage either the trunk or the palm fronds.

“Each tree was rigged with two straps around the trunk, wrapped tightly and attached to a spreader bar to protect the palm fronds,” said Wicklander. “The operator would carefully lift the tree then let it hang in the air for a few minutes, just to make sure the straps were holding and there was no slippage.”

Wicklander said if they had used only one strap, the tree would have a tendency to go sideways during the lift. The crew on the ground needed the tree to remain perfectly vertical so it would easily set into the pre-dug hole.

“This was a delicate job that required careful consideration of the surrounding property and an experienced operator able to make blind lifts with precision,” said Wicklander. “Having a tenured workforce and a deep bench of lift equipment allowed us to fulfill the customer’s needs quickly and accurately.”

It took just two days to plant all 20 palm trees. The LTM 1350-6.1 was on site for approximately four days, including assembly and tear-down.