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How Much Does It Cost to Transplant a Tree?

Last Updated on June 2, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Whether you need to relocate a treasured tree on your property to accommodate landscaping changes or want to safely move new trees into your landscape, understanding the full costs involved with tree transplanting is essential for budgeting and planning.

This guide examines the array of factors impacting tree transplanting costs, typical price ranges based on tree size, cost breakdowns for professional services and equipment, tips for cost savings, and best practices for optimizing transplantation success.

How Much Does It Cost to Transplant a Tree?

Prices can range widely – anywhere from $300 to move a small sapling across your yard to over $5,000 or more for relocating a huge, multi-ton mature shade tree across town.

Certain professional arboricultural services are strongly recommended for optimal tree transplanting success and health, including:

  • Experienced arborist consultation – $100 to $300 to assess the tree, advise on risks, provide a detailed transplant plan, and direct the tree moving crew on proper techniques.
  • Professional tree moving service – $300 to $2,500+ depending on the size, species, and distance the tree must be relocated. More complex moves are pricier.
  • Landscape design consultation – $50 to $200 per hour to advise on aesthetically incorporating the transplanted tree and planning compatible plants and design elements around it.

Equipment and Professional Labor

In addition to arborist consultation fees, specialized equipment and professional technical labor necessary for transplantation will also impact costs:

  • Large tree spade or crane – $500 to $1,500+ for rental and expert operation to minimize tree and property damage.
  • Skilled labor – $50 to $100 per hour for qualified arborist technicians experienced in safely moving trees.
  • Careful soil preparation – $200 to $600 for purchasing amendments, pre-transplant root pruning, digging adequate planting holes and restoring the area after tree installation.

Homewyse, a home improvement cost calculator website, estimates the basic cost to transplant a tree in April 2024 to be between $758 and $920 per tree. However, this cost can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the job.

Angi, a home services platform, states that the cost of moving trees varies considerably depending on the tree’s size and age, accessibility, and new location. They mention that rates start at around $300 for smaller trees and can increase significantly for larger, more mature trees.

Factors Impacting Tree Transplanting Costs

Several important considerations influence the investment and pricing required to successfully transplant an established tree:

  • Tree size and species – Larger, heavier trees require more equipment, labor, and care to move safely. Some delicate tree species transplant poorly.
  • Distance and location of relocation – Moving a tree across town or to a distant property is far pricier than relocating within the same general area or yard.
  • Accessibility – Tight spaces make maneuvering large equipment difficult and drive costs up.
  • Soil preparation – More time and material inputs for amending and preparing the new planting hole adds costs.
  • Professional expertise – Arborist oversight ensures proper techniques for the highest transplant survival rates. DIY risks tree health.
  • Season and timing – Ideal planting timeframes versus dormant winter periods affect pricing availability.

In general, the larger the tree and the further distance it needs moved, the higher the transplanting costs will be due to specialized equipment needs, tree survival risks, and professional labor demands.

Other Tree Transplanting Costs

Depending on the circumstances, additional incidental expenses may factor into your tree transplanting budget, including:

  • Post-transplant tree care – $50 to $200 for needed watering, mulching, fertilizing, bracing and staking.
  • Transportation fees – $200 to $500+ to haul an extremely large or heavy tree if moving significant distance.
  • Government permits – $50 to $150 for road closure permits, crane operation licenses, etc. if required.
  • Tree removal – If a mature tree must be taken out to accommodate the transplanted tree.

Carefully total all anticipated components when budgeting for a tree transplant project. Get a detailed written quote from arborists.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a Dogwood tree, a Japanese Maple tree, or a Bonsai.

Tree Transplanting Prices by Size

To summarize typical cost ranges based on tree size:

  • Small tree or sapling transplant – $300 to $800
  • Medium-sized partly mature tree transplant – $800 to $2,500
  • Large mature specimen shade tree transplant – $2,500 to $5,000+

Multi-tree transplant projects provide some economies of scale and potentially discounted pricing. Always obtain quotes from experienced certified arborists.

Should You Transplant Established Trees?

Transplanting a TreeThe decision to undertake transplanting large mature trees is not one to take lightly. Some key points of consideration:

Potential benefits of successfully transplanting mature trees include:

  • Preserving a cherished or particularly valuable established tree on your property.
  • Providing instant landscaping and tree canopy without waiting years for new tree growth.
  • Maintaining landscape focal points and avoiding mature tree removal if possible.

Risks and important factors to weigh:

  • High costs involved with moving extremely large, heavy trees.
  • Increased potential trauma and stresses to the tree’s health.
  • Need for diligent follow-up care and monitoring.
  • Higher likelihood of transplant shock and mortality if done improperly.

In general, transplanting is primarily recommended for high-value mature specimen trees that are difficult to replace or cultivate. Obtaining experienced arborist input is critical.

DIY Small Tree Transplanting

For smaller saplings and young trees under 6 inches thick, do-it-yourself transplantation is possible with proper guidance and care. Here are some tips for DIY success:

  • Carefully hand excavate around the root ball and dig up the tree.
  • Keep the root system intact with soil. Prune any damaged roots.
  • Quickly replant the tree at the right depth in pre-dug planting hole.
  • Water deeply, apply mulch, and stake tree for stability.
  • Fertilize lightly per arborist recommendation to reduce transplant shock.
  • Monitor the tree diligently for signs of stress and water regularly.

With the right tools, patience, and care, smaller trees can be transplanted solo at low cost. But professional support maximizes outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get quick answers to some common questions about tree transplanting costs and considerations:

How long does a newly transplanted tree take to fully establish and thrive?

Allow 1 to 3 years for good establishment before expecting vigorous growth. Monitor water, soil nutrients, and tree vigor closely during this period.

What are the best times of year for transplanting trees with minimal shock?

Early spring just before bud break or during dormancy in late fall into early winter are ideal. Avoid summer’s heat stresses.

What aftercare is essential when caring for a newly transplanted tree?

Water deeply and regularly, mulch the area, possibly stake/brace the tree, apply light organic fertilizer, and carefully prune any damaged branches to balance the canopy.

Can almost all tree species be successfully transplanted if done properly?

Most tolerate transplanting quite well, but some sensitive trees like dogwoods, magnolias, hemlocks, and larches can be more difficult and suffer higher mortality rates. Always check with an arborist.

What are the biggest risks and challenges associated with moving very large, mature trees?

The larger the established tree, the higher the risks of stress, trauma, transplant shock, and mortality. Proper practices and aftercare help mitigate risks, but losses still occur. Get professional guidance.

1 reply
  1. Stan McLeod
    Stan McLeod says:

    I will move a 20ft tall 40yr old crepe myrtle 90 feet across the front yard, if I become convinced it will survive. Analysis is required.

    Reply

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