How much does tree moving and transplanting cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does tree moving and transplanting cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does tree moving and transplanting cost?

$300 – $700average tree (5” – 15” trunk diameter)
$1,000 – $5,000large tree (15”+ trunk diameter)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$300 – $700 average tree (5” – 15” trunk diameter)

$1,000 – $5,000 large tree (15”+ trunk diameter)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Are you a pro? Get new customers
Sarah Noel
Written by
Sarah Noel
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

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.

Tree moving and transplanting cost
Transplanting method Average cost* Tree size and considerations
Digging with hand tools $50 – $100 per hour
  • Ideal for young trees
  • Up to 4” trunk diameter
  • Only option for trees right next to the home or underground lines
Spade machine excavator $300 – $700 per tree
  • 5” – 15” trunk diameter
  • Most common method
  • Fastest transplantation
Machine digging with large crew $1,000 – $5,000 per tree
  • More than 15” thick diameter
  • Requires a crane
  • Extra permits & planning

*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.

Get free estimates from tree services near you.

Average cost to relocate a tree

The following table shows the average cost to relocate a tree:

Average cost to relocate a tree
National average cost $500
Minimum cost $100
Maximum cost $5,000
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.

Tree spade service cost vs. digging up a tree
Transplanting method Average cost*
Tree spade $300 – $700
Machine digging $1,000 – $5,000

*Prices for moving within the same property without obstacles.

Transplanting a tree using heavy machinery.
Transplanting a tree using heavy machinery.

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 holesTopsoil 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.

Transplanting method by tree size
Tree size Transplanting method
Up to 3’ tall (Trunk diameter 1”)
  • DIY-friendly shoveling
  • Bare-root transplant
4’ to 15’ tall (Trunk diameter up to 4”)
  • Professional crew needed
  • No heavy machinery required
  • Maintain the soil and root ball
20’ to 30’ tall (Trunk diameter 5” to 15”)
  • Hydraulic spade machine needed
  • Professional crew needed
  • Maintain & wrap root ball
30’ to 40’+ tall (Trunk diameter 18” +)
  • Large crew + crane needed
  • Extra site preparation beforehand
  • Maintain & wrap root ball

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:

Tree or shrub moving vs. not moving
Move a tree or shrub if: Do not move a tree or shrub if:
  • The roots are too close to an underground utility line, the foundation, or pavement.
  • Less than 10 feet of growing space is available around the roots.
  • The plant is perennial.
  • Root systems are compact, like in ash or maple trees.
  • The shrub or tree is young, small, and has less deeply established roots.
  • The plant won’t get the sun exposure or moisture it needs in the new location.
  • Pests or diseases are affecting the plant.
  • The new location has less space for roots than its current home.
  • The tree has a long vertical taproot, like oak, pine, or walnut trees.
  • Underground utility lines are anywhere near the new location.
  • The plant is very old, reducing its survival rate.

Alternatives to moving a tree include:

Get free estimates from tree services near you.

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?