It’s the season to plant trees! As a new homeowner, I’ve learned the hard way that some trees cost way more to plant than others. Trees have a wide range of pricing options. So, how much does tree planting cost?
It generally costs between $50 and $100 to purchase and plant a young tree under 10′ tall. Small saplings can be planted for under $50 in most cases. A non-profit can plant a tree in a natural area on your behalf for between $1-$10, depending on your location and where the tree will be planted.
There are seemingly endless factors which go into the cost to plant a tree. There really is no set price. Read on to learn about what affects how much tree planting costs.
Estimating the cost to plant a specific tree
Crunching the numbers on what your tree will cost to plant can be tricky because there are so many variables involved. In general, smaller trees cost less to plant than big trees. Smaller trees can be successfully planted by a homeowner with simple garden tools.
Once a tree is large enough to require machinery to be lifted, the planting cost increases drastically. The delivery cost of a large tree can be hundreds of dollars. You may need to rent equipment or hire landscapers. Get a price to have the tree planted before you buy the tree, and be prepared for sticker shock if it’s a large tree from a faraway place.
Consider the following hypothetical examples:
Example 1: Homeowner plants a common young tree – $85 total cost
- $75 – Price Tag – Cost of a 6′ potted tree at the nursery, including taxes.
- $10 – Transportation – Mileage cost estimate for homeowner’s pickup truck.
- $0 – Equipment – Homeowner’s existing equipment used (no new garden tools purchased)
- $0 – Fertilizer – Homeowner does not fertilize the tree or improve the existing soil while planting it (a wise choice in my uneducated opinion).
Example 2: Landscaper installs large specimen tree – $1300 total cost
- $425 – Wholesale Price – Cost of the tree at the nursery to the landscaper.
- $75 – Tree Markup – Landscaper marks up the tree to account for delivery costs.
- $400 – Tree Spade – Minimum rental price for tree spade truck.
- $100 – Dump Trailer – Used to haul away excess soil.
- $300 – Crew Labor – Hourly charge-out rate job total for the crew.
How much does a landscaper charge for tree planting?
If you don’t want to do the tree planting yourself, there is the option to hire a landscaper to plant the tree. The cost to plant a tree charged by a landscaper is rarely a set list price. The planting cost can be so variable that each job is often priced individually after a site visit.
A landscaper will generally charge an hourly rate to plant a tree. Each crew member will have an hourly charge-out labor rate, and each piece of machinery used may also be charged hourly. This may include an excavator, a skid steer, and/or a dumping utility trailer.
Any equipment that the landscaper has to rent for your job may also be added. For instance, the landscaper may own a skid steer but have to rent an auger digging attachment or a tree spade attachment for your particular job. They then charge this cost to the homeowner.
The landscaper may give you a lump sum price to plant the tree or a written estimate of the costs for each item above. Take care to choose a landscaper who is upfront about what the job will cost and who will clearly communicate with you on all cost-related matters.
How much does it cost to plant a large tree?
The cost to plant a large tree depends on whether or not it’s big enough to require machinery to be planted. Hiring a landscaping crew with a tree spade truck to plant a fully grown tree may cost over $1000, especially if the area is tricky to work in. On the other hand, a tree in a large pot that can be carried may not cost much beyond the price of the tree if you already have a pickup truck, garden tools, and the motivation to plant it yourself.
Some nurseries will deliver large orders for reasonable rates or work with local delivery people to coordinate delivery for those without large vehicles. Likewise, some nurseries package their trees nicely for transport, while others leave that up to you. Tree transport supplies like burlap fabric, ratchet straps, bungee cords, and a protective tarp may come in handy.
If a landscaper is doing the work, they may charge for delivery in addition to an hourly labor charge-out rate for each crew member. There are also additional charges for specialized equipment required to dig the hole and lift the tree. The largest landscape trees commonly installed must be planted with a tree spade, which alone can be hundreds of dollars per hour to rent. For more information on planting large trees, check out this article about how much fully-grown trees cost.
How much does it cost to have a charity plant a tree?
It is generally cheaper to have a non-profit charity plant a tree as part of a reforestation project than it is to plant a tree or two in your yard. Donating cash for tree planting is a great way to plant a tree, especially if you don’t have the land or the time to do it yourself.
The US Non-Profit One Tree Planted makes it simple with its promise to plant a tree for each dollar donated:
“One dollar plants one tree.”OneTreePlanted.org
Similar tree-planting non-profits exist in other countries. World Land Trust in the UK plants a tree for each donation of five British pounds. In Australia, the Foundation for Natural Parks & Wildlife will plant a tree for each donation of ten Australian dollars.
These charities have set consistent per-tree donation rates for simplicity’s sake, but the actual cost of planting trees around the world is quite variable. The cost to plant a tree depends on the exchange rate, the location in which the tree is being planted, and the availability of appropriate tree specimens. There are labor costs and transportation costs to factor in. It could cost less than a dollar per tree in a cheap location to over $30 per tree in an expensive, specialized, or urban area.
Non-profit tree donation cost breakdown
Non-Profit One Tree Planted lists the following cost breakdown of the factors that go into the cost to plant a tree:
$.50 -.85 for one tree sapling to be grown at a nurseryTree Planting Cost Breakdown – OneTreePlanted.org
$.20 – $.30 per tree to be planted
$.08 – $.20 per tree average with transport costs, material costs
$.10 – $.22 ongoing maintenance of trees
$.12 – $.15 operating costs
$.03 – $.05 credit card processing fees, transaction costs
What kind of tree are you planting!?