How much does tree moving and transplanting cost?
How much does tree moving and transplanting cost?
$300 – $700 average tree (5” – 15” trunk diameter)
$1,000 – $5,000 large tree (15”+ trunk diameter)
Tree moving and transplanting cost
Tree moving costs $300 to $700 on average for tree-spade excavation service. Large tree transplanting costs $1,000 to $5,000 for digging with more heavy machinery and a crane. The cost to relocate a tree depends on the size, method, transportation distance, and site obstacles.
|Transplanting method||Average cost*||Tree size and considerations|
|Digging with hand tools||$50 – $100 per hour||
|Spade machine excavator||$300 – $700 per tree||
|Machine digging with large crew||$1,000 – $5,000 per tree||
*Prices for moving trees within the same property during ideal weather in open spaces.
Add $5 to $10 per mile minimum for travel to a different site.
Costs increase to $90+ per mile with over-width road permits necessary for extra-large trees.
Average cost to relocate a tree
The following table shows the average cost to relocate a tree:
|National average cost||$500|
|Average range||$300 to $700|
Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.
Small vs. large tree transplanting cost factors
Tree spade service cost vs. digging
Tree spade service costs $300 to $700 on average for a tree trunk diameter of 15” or less. The cost to dig up a tree is $1,000 to $5,000 for tree trunk diameters more than 15” with the use of heavy machinery.
|Transplanting method||Average cost*|
|Tree spade||$300 – $700|
|Machine digging||$1,000 – $5,000|
*Prices for moving within the same property without obstacles.
Labor cost to move a tree
The labor cost to move a tree depends on the tree size, moving method, and what kind of equipment the workers use.
Hiring an arborist costs $100 to $250 per hour for an initial inspection and report on the tree’s health and moving condition.
Landscapers charge $50 to $100 per hour to transplant small trees by hand.
Spade machine service costs $200 to $350 per hour on average for transplanting trees with trunks up to 15” wide.
Crane rentals with operators cost $350 to $1,500 minimum for 4 to 6 hours.
Root pruning cost before relocating
Root pruning costs $150 to $500 on average, depending on the root-system size, complexity, and accessibility. Root pruning involves trenching around the tree to cut back larger roots to help the tree grow new feeder roots before moving. This new growth increases the success rate of the transplant.
Additional cost factors to move a tree
Soil conditions – Digging in clay, frozen, or rocky soil increases labor time.
Property location – Fees for tree moving are higher in cities than in rural areas. Costs also increase for transporting machines on poorly maintained roads.
Size – Transplanting larger trees requires excavating all main roots with the root-ball soil using bigger crews and equipment.
Number of trees – Moving multiple trees during the same visit reduces the cost per tree.
Equipment – Digging up young trees with hand tools is cheapest. Spade machines and other excavators have specially trained operators and cost more.
Accessibility – Jobs are cheapest on sites with open space around the tree and no fencing. Labor costs increase around underground utilities, power lines, fences, buildings, concrete foundations, and landscaping features.
Safety risks – Extra time and labor is necessary to stabilize a large tree so that it doesn’t fall on the home or power lines in the moving process.
Moving distance – Transplanting within the same property is cheapest. Transporting a tree to another property has extra fees for permits, hauling equipment, and the miles traveled.
Filling holes – Topsoil costs $10 to $50 per yard for filling the hole after moving the tree. Some contractors include this fee in the estimate.
Landscaping repairs – Landscapers charge $50 to $100 per hour for yard repairs. New sod installation costs $1 to $2 per square foot.
Prep work – Tree trimming costs $50 to $125 per hour so that the plant fits inside a spade machine for transplanting.
Removing extra dirt – Dirt removal costs $140 to $230 per cubic yard when extra dirt needs hauling offsite.
Mulching – Adding mulch costs $35 to $70 per yard, including delivery and installation.
Tilling – Machine tilling costs $50 to $100 minimum to prepare the new planting site.
Aftercare – Follow-up support costs for watering and fertilization depend on the climate, tree, and soil conditions.
Tree supports – Wiring and staking a newly transplanted tree in windy areas has variable costs according to the tree size. After one year, the supports can come out.
Tree moving FAQs
How big of a tree can you transplant?
You can transplant most trees up to 3’ tall by hand digging without professional assistance. Hire a professional tree mover or arborist for all larger trees. Transplanting methods depend on the tree size.
|Tree size||Transplanting method|
|Up to 3’ tall (Trunk diameter 1”)||
|4’ to 15’ tall (Trunk diameter up to 4”)||
|20’ to 30’ tall (Trunk diameter 5” to 15”)||
|30’ to 40’+ tall (Trunk diameter 18” +)||
How do you measure a tree?
Tree movers measure a tree’s diameter to determine permit fees and pricing.
For young trees, measure the circumference at ground level by wrapping measuring tape around the tree base.
For saplings less than 4 years old, measure the “trunk caliper”. This metric is the tree's circumference at a height of 0.5 to 1.0 foot above the ground.
For older trees, measure the diameter at breast height (DBH). Wrap a measuring tape around the tree at a height of 4.5’ above ground level to get the circumference, then divide that number by 3.14 to calculate the diameter.
When is the best time to transplant a tree?
The best time to transplant a tree is in early spring, late summer, or fall, depending on the tree type and climate. Transplanting is most successful when the plant is dormant. Relocated plants rarely survive when moved in mid-growing season or midsummer.
How do I know whether to move a tree or shrub?
The following chart shows whether or not to move a tree or a shrub:
|Move a tree or shrub if:||Do not move a tree or shrub if:|
Alternatives to moving a tree include:
Tree removal costs $300 to $2,000.
Tree branch removal costs $75 to $850.
Stump removal costs $80 to $250.
Stump grinding costs $100 to $250 per stump.
Getting tree relocation estimates from arborists
Before hiring a tree relocation service near you, be sure to:
Compare at least 3 bids from different contractors.
Check for licenses, insurance, and full worker’s comp coverage for the crew.
Ask for certification from the ISA, TCIA, or other arborist societies.
Read their HomeGuide and Google reviews.
Request a list of references.
Seek out a company with at least 5 years of experience.
Get a written copy of the contract terms, itemized bid, and insurance proof.
Beware of the lowest quotes that may signal low-quality work.
Never pay in full upfront.
Questions to ask
How long have you been moving trees?
Do you transplant trees according to ANSI standards?
How do I contact the crew manager to discuss the job details?
What different methods can you offer for moving this tree?
How much space will the crew need?
Do any local laws protect this type of tree?
Will my tree need any pruning or extra soil fertilizer, and do they cost extra?
Which equipment will your crew use, and what size is it?
How will you protect my lawn from heavy machinery?
Will you remove fencing to access the tree?
Does this bid include cleanup and backfilling the hole?
How long will the project take?
Can you offer me a guarantee on your work?
Are you available for follow-up visits after transplantation?
Can you call the utility company first to mark the underground lines?
Is a discount possible if we schedule the transplant on a day when you have other jobs in this neighborhood?
Will you pull all required permits first?
How often will I need to water the tree after you’ve moved it?