How Much Does it Cost to Transplant a Tree?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 9, 2018

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Transplanting a tree from one spot to another can be needed for many reasons, and if the tree is healthy enough, it is possible to transplant just about any tree to an alternative location.

Tree Transplant by horseman7869, on Flickr
Tree Transplant” (CC BY 2.0) by  horseman7869

How much does it cost to transplant a tree?

The costs of transplanting a tree will depend on the size of the tree, how far the tree needs to be moved, how far the company has to drive to your location, site access, digging conditions, the complexity of the job and the size of the tree trunk.  Most trees smaller than eight to 12 feet often cost $300 to as much as $1,200 to transplant; however, mature trees that are older than 100 years old could cost more than $50,000 to transplant.  As long as the tree is smaller than 12 feet tall, the costs will often be in this mentioned range.

Since all jobs are going to be fairly unique, consider getting free quotes from reputable and licensed contractors for free from HomeAdvisor.com.

According to this forum thread on Gardenweb.com, a forum member was quoted $500 per tree to transplant a 25-foot white oak tree to her neighbor’s yard.  In the same thread, a contractor who works with transplanting trees said he would charge at least $1,000 a piece, but the prices will vary across geographical regions as with any job.

On another forum thread at NewAGTalk.com, one member said he paid $140 per tree, plus a $2 mile surcharge to move smaller blue spruce trees.

Adrian Higgins at The Washington Post noted the costs will depend on the size of the tree and the site conditions.  A 1 1/2-inch-caliper Japanese maple could take less than two hours and cost less than $200.  Hand digging can cost a minimum of $300 for a crew, whereas the minimum increases to $500 if they have to arrive with a tree spade.

LifeofanArchitect.com talked about the process of transplanting a 34-foot caliper live oak in order to make room for a new building.  Illustrating the progress, the costs, in the end, after needing 20 people on the job, cost $57,000.

Another costly job, when the University of Tampa moved two mature trees for $178,000.

Transplanting a tree overview

Before the transplant is even considered, a qualified professional will first consider the sensitivity of the tree, the size of the tree, the soil conditions, the time of year, the survival rate and if they have the right sized tree spade to complete the job as most tree service-based companies are limited to the size of a tree they can successfully transplant.  As long as the survival rate is deemed to be high and they have the right equipment, then the job can proceed.

There are two methods to transplant a tree:  either by digging by hand or with a hydraulic tree spade.  A tree spade is always used with a larger tree and/or when the tree can’t be dug out due to the site conditions.  While there’s no limit to hand digging, most contractors will use a tree spade on trees larger than three feet across, but all will have their own policies as the conditions can vary with all jobs.

After the transplant, the tree will then be watered, lightly mulched in some cases and, depending on the size, it may be staked.

What are the extra costs?

The larger the tree is, the heavier the rootball will need to be, which means heavier equipment may need to be brought in to dig and move the plant.

The company may charge more for wrapping the roots of the tree and/or if a permit is needed to move the tree.

The tree will require care and maintenance after it has been moved, just like any other tree, and the hole that is left, after the removal, will also need to be refilled with fill dirt.  This may be included in the cost, but this will depend on the company that removes the tree.  It is, however, best to ask before you enlist the services of a company whether or not the hole will be refilled.  A hole left in the ground can be dangerous for others on the property.

If the tree is being moved a long distance, you may be charged extra for the delivery fee.

In rare circumstances, if the site accessibility is poor and a tree spade can’t gain appropriate access, then a crane will be needed to remove the tree.  If this were the case, a crane could increase the costs by thousands.

Tips to know:

The best time to transplant a tree, as per Jordan’s Tree Moving and Maintenance, Inc., is during the spring or fall seasons when there’s low moisture stress on the plants during this time.

How can I save money?

Be sure to get as many quotes as you can.  Most companies will be more than happy to provide a ballpark estimate in person.

Ask yourself why you want to transplant the tree and if it’s worth doing so.  For example, some fast growing trees may not be worth the investment, whereas a slow growing Japanese maple may be.


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