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We got some heavy rain last week and a 4.5 ft tall barrel cactus fell over. Assuming most of it is water, it probably weighs about 700 lb. I've read that if I moisten the soil, take care with the roots, and can get and keep it upright with sandbags and 2x4's, it might live.

I imagine that I could wrap the cactus in an old carpet, cut some 2x6's to make a harness, feed a thick rope through harness, and slowly pull it upright using some kind of pulley system, where all the pulleys will probably have to be held in place by drilling holes in our concrete sidewalk. I'm also hoping that by tying the other end of the rope around a recycling bin and having someone pull it in parallel to my effort, we can space the effort out. The recycling bin currently has about 7 cu ft of water and thus weighs about 430 lb.

Is this a reasonable idea? Are there special names for the species of pulley system I'd need to use, or pulley and rope ratings to respect, or other components I need to be aware of to get this to work? I took physics in a previous life and can sit down and do calculations to finalize the design before I start work, but I don't have the intuition of someone who has actually solved mechanical engineering problems to say, "This is nonsense" or "You've got to account for X" where X is one of many things I just don't know about. Is there perhaps some more reasonable or cheaper route to save our big lug? If it's much more cost effective, I could rent appropriate equipment from the hardware store, but I kind of like having the excuse to purchase some simple effort-multiplying devices so I can pull off other feats in the future.

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  • $\begingroup$ surround the cactus with waterproof walls ... fill with water ... etc. etc. $\endgroup$
    – jsotola
    Jul 28 '21 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need an engineer, just a method to prop it up. To me, an old-school jack attached to a 4x4 would do it. pushing lets you use the ground to push against, pulling it means you need something in the sky. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Jul 28 '21 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ Another thought... Then once you get it up, how long would you have to hold it stationary before the additional root structure could hold the thing upright without requiring the additional support? This may be a long haul requirement... you may have to plan for the long run. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Clark
    Jul 28 '21 at 4:13
  • $\begingroup$ Another thing you could do is ensure the cactus has a descent hole to go back into & if possible remove the soil currently under half of the exposed root zone. That way it will be easier to get the cactus back into the ground & upright. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Jul 28 '21 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ ratchet straps, as used to secure loads, make a great pulley system and are commonly available. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Jul 28 '21 at 9:27

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