Having been devoted to bulbs and seedlings the last last few seasons, I am throughly unaccostomed to treating plants like wayward toddlers. Ferns and ficuses are super resilient. My previous experience watching a Kimberly fern being cut with a reciprocating saw made what we did seem graceful.
The three of us used an axe, butcher knives and a v-shaped weeding tool to rip out and into the ferns with all the fury we could muster. As for the ficuses, 1/2 to 2/3 of the root balls were simply sawed off to regenerate the plants. Who would have thought?!?
That gave me the courage to 'regenerate' my own ficus which was seriously pot bound. The hubby and I lifted it out and I sawed off the bottom half, added fresh soil and repotted it. Done.
I waited a week to post this to make sure everything survived. The ficus is thriving. The Boston ferns had the most body to them, and while a few fronds dropped (I assume from transplant stress), new fronds are coming up. That's always good. They make great additions to the front porch area. The Queen Anne's didn't drop any fronds [surprisingly], but haven't put out any new growth that I can see. They were a bit thin from the start from being so root bound, but the leaves are greening up. For now, they're in the garage. I would express doubt that they will make it, but then I think back to the Kimberly Ferns that are doing so well. I suppose the lesson here is not to doubt someone who is brave enough to take an axe or an electrical tool to a plant.