How Much Does It Cost to Plant a Tree? A Budgeting Guide
- Typical Range: $150 to $3,000
One of the most noticeable aesthetic differences between new residential developments and older established neighborhoods has to do with trees. While recent developments feature homes with the latest design trends, they often lack the character and charisma of homes nestled under a canopy of towering oaks and maples.
The cost to plant a tree ranges from about $150 to $3,000. If this seems like a broad range, it is—but that’s because considerations vary widely from community to community and from company to company. Ahead, find out more about what goes into determining the cost of planting trees and why it’s in the best interest of most homeowners to include a few trees in a well-designed landscape.
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Factors in Calculating the Cost to Plant a Tree
Several factors go into calculating the cost to plant a tree, including the size of the tree, the species, the age of the tree, and labor costs. The type of equipment necessary to plant the tree also factors into the cost. A tree-planting company that uses a large tree spade mounted on the back of a heavy-duty truck has more overhead costs than a landscaper who plans to dig a hole with a shovel. Coming up with a ballpark estimate doesn’t require a planting calculator.
A relatively small tree (under 3 feet high), the type that can be purchased from a gardening center in a 1- or 2-gallon container, will cost less to plant than a larger tree that must be moved (via a large tree spade) from a tree nursery and transplanted in the yard. In general, professional planting of small trees ranges from $150 to $300 per tree, while a larger tree (over 15 feet) will run $1,500 to $3,000.
The type of tree chosen will also affect the cost. The first rule of thumb here is to select a tree that will grow in your area. Not all types of trees will grow in all regions. For the best results, consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to ensure the chosen tree is well suited to the area.
In addition, some trees are more expensive than others to purchase—and that’s before any planting service charges are factored in. Typically, trees that grow slower or are more challenging to grow will cost more. Arborvitae trees may cost as little as $7 for bare root tree seedlings ordered online, while buying a potted version could run $15 to $20. A small potted Japanese maple can cost around $60, while a potted lemon tree could run $30 to $100, depending on size.
Number of Trees
Having a single tree planted can cost more per tree than having multiple trees planted. While having just one small tree planted ranges in cost from $150 to $300, depending on size and species, having five small trees planted at the same time averages a total of $300 to $700, which comes out to be about $60 to $140 per tree. If you have plans to incorporate several trees in the landscape, you may save money by having them planted simultaneously.
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The least expensive time to plant a tree is when it’s small; it will cost just $150 to $300 to plant. As a tree matures, its roots spread out, and planting a larger tree will require the services of a large tree spade. If you choose a tree currently growing on a tree farm, a tree spade will be necessary for digging up the tree roots with the soil still intact. This type of specialized planting requires the services of a professional tree-moving company that has the large equipment necessary to do the job, and it could cost up to $3,000, depending on the tree’s size.
The location where you want the tree planted can also impact the cost. Anytime an area of the yard is difficult to access, such as is common in yards with steep slopes, retaining walls, and narrow accesses that make it difficult for the tree-planting company to move their machinery, the cost is bound to go up. The longer it takes to do the job, the more you’ll be charged in labor costs. Additional fees may apply if the soil is rocky and difficult to dig.
Labor, Crew Size, and Equipment
Labor costs factor into the overall cost of planting trees, and most landscaping companies charge a set rate per hour for their workers no matter what type of service they’re performing. For example, general planting of trees, shrubs, flowers, or grass come with labor costs of $50 to $150 per hour. Other companies may charge a set fee of $4 to $10 per square foot for the same types of services. The larger the crew, the higher the hourly rate, but large crews often get the job done in fewer hours.
Permit or Inspection Fees
Planting a tree of any size requires digging a hole, and anytime you dig a hole, there’s a chance of hitting buried utility lines. In most communities, a call to Dig Safe (811) will result in utility workers coming out and marking the location of underground lines. This is a free service.
However, if a permit is required, the landscaping or tree-planting company will usually bundle the fee into the final costs. If planting the tree is a DIY project, the homeowner should contact the local building and zoning authority to determine whether a permit is necessary. A tree-planting permit could range from $25 to $100, or more, depending on community permitting rates.
Additional Costs and Considerations
A wide range of additional factors can impact the cost of having a tree planted. These may include preparing the site, which could involve clearing out existing shrubbery or trees, fees for landscaping design, and costs for special modifications like installing an irrigation system. These related costs will increase the final tally.
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Diseased or overgrown trees may need to be removed from the landscape before new trees can be planted. The cost of removing a tree ranges from between $200 and $2,000, depending on the tree size. The cost also hinges on any challenges the tree-removal company faces in accessing the property and whether special equipment is necessary to keep the tree branches from falling on nearby structures during the removal.
Planting trees is often just one part of a larger landscaping project, including planting additional flowers, shrubs, or even installing a new lawn. To have an entire yard planted, expect to pay between $1,352 and $5,638, with $3,398 being about average. For limited projects, landscaping pros typically charge between $50 to $150 per hour for their services.
Irrigation System Addition
Newly planted trees need regular watering for their roots to become established in their new location. It’s OK to drag a hose around and soak them every few days for the first couple of weeks and then once or twice a week after that, but not everyone has time to do that. The installation of an above-ground drip system will direct water right to the trees’ roots and can be connected to a timer to ensure the new tree never goes without adequate water. Expect to pay about $410 to $930 to have a drip irrigation system installed.
Home Repairs or Modifications
When planting trees is a part of a more extensive home repair or modification project, the entire project’s cost can be substantial. For example, during the tree-planting process, a large tree spade may tear up portions of the lawn or destroy shrubs and bushes. Repairing the lawn and plantings to their original state will add to the total cost. Some of the relative repairs might include:
- Planting flowers and shrubs at an approximate cost of $50 to $150 per hour.
- Reconstructing a fence that had to be removed to allow a tree spade to access the property could cost $13 to $50 per linear foot of fence.
- Installing sod to repair torn grass in the lawn at a cost of approximately $1 to $2 per square foot.
- Overseeding the entire lawn, ranging from $412 to $1,557, depending on the type of grass and the going cost of local labor.
Hazardous Material Testing and Removal
Removing an old shed, fence, garage, or another outbuilding in preparation for planting new trees will add to the cost, especially if those old structures contain hazardous materials, such as asbestos. Local building codes and ordinances will determine whether the homeowner, a general contractor, or a remediation expert must remove the dangerous substances. Professional asbestos removal ranges from about $75 to $200 per hour, and testing is often included in the removal price.
Cost to Plant a Tree: Popular Types of Trees
How much do trees cost? Hundreds of tree species exist, but some are more popular than others, usually due to the tree’s hardiness, ease of growth, and design. Trees can be purchased in person at garden and landscaping centers or can be ordered online. Be aware that shipping charges will usually be added to trees ordered online. The following species are commonly chosen for inclusion in the landscape, but professional planting fees will be extra.
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Native to the U.S., the American arborvitae is a popular choice for windbreaks, hedges, or privacy screens. It grows in USDA zones 5 through 7 and keeps its green color all year long. This hardy evergreen can reach a height of up to 60 feet at maturity. Plan to spend $50 to $60 to purchase a small (under 3-foot) arborvitae. Professional planting costs will be extra.
A showstopper in the landscape, the dogwood is covered in large white blossoms in spring. While it thrives in temperate regions, the dogwood doesn’t tolerate cold winter temperatures, so most dogwood types, such as Blue Ray Kousa dogwood, grow well in USDA Zones 5 through 8. Expect to spend around $60 for a small dogwood tree. Professional planting will be additional and depends on the individual landscaping company’s fees.
Eastern White Pine
A stately evergreen that keeps its green foliage all year long, the Eastern white pine is often planted in groups for windbreaks, but it looks just as good when planted as a single specimen tree. This cone-bearing pine tree is relatively inexpensive, and homeowners may be able to purchase as many as 10 small Eastern white pines for under $500. Expect to pay more to have them professionally planted, however.
The ginkgo tree turns a lovely shade of fluorescent yellow in early fall, making it a good choice for an ornamental specimen in USDA zones 3 through 9. Slightly more expensive than some other types of trees, a small ginkgo (less than 3 feet in height) may cost $70, while a larger specimen (5 to 6 feet tall) will run closer to $130. The price does not include professional tree-planting services.
Japanese Red Maple
Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8, the Japanese red maple comes in many varieties, most never reaching more than 15 feet high at maturity. This landscaping favorite is prized for its red foliage that contrasts against the green of a lawn or other foliage. Among the pricier ornamental trees, expect to pay around $150 for a small (1- to 2-foot) Japanese maple and about $180 for a 3- to 4-foot specimen. Professional planting costs will be extra.
Among a variety of blooming cherry trees, the Kwanzan cherry tree stands out—erupting into bright pink blossoms in spring that blanket the entire tree. This blooming tree reaches a mature height of up to 40 feet, and it grows well in USDA zones 5 through 9. On average, a 6- to 7-foot Kwanzan cherry tree runs about $140, not counting professional planting fees.
Little Gem Magnolia
For those living in USDA zones 7 through 9, the Little Gem Magnolia tree doesn’t disappoint. Like other magnolia trees, this species provides stunning white blooms in spring, and the tree reaches a mature height of up to 20 feet, making it a good option for placement in a large perennial bed or as a single specimen. The Little Gem Magnolia starts around $100 for a very small tree (under 2 feet) and can run as much as $150 for a 3- to 4-foot tree. Professional planting fees will be additional.
Sometimes called Mexican white oak, the Monterrey oak tree is native to the southern part of the U.S. and will grow easily in USDA zones 7 through 10. The tree produces large, thick leaves that are prized for their peach coloring in early spring. The tree can reach up to 40 feet at maturity, so it needs room to grow. Expect to pay up to $100 for a medium-size (5- to 6-foot) tree. Planting costs are not included.
After clusters of fragrant white blossoms in spring, the Shadblow serviceberry tree produces edible fruits useful for pie and jelly making. The tree is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, and it will reach up to 25 feet at maturity. Shadblow serviceberry is an affordable option, running about $40 for a small tree, but planting charges will be additional.
Cost to Plant a Tree: Benefits of Planting Trees
Including trees in the landscape not only boosts a home’s curb appeal and provides a year-round visual aspect, but trees are also valuable in other ways. For the best results, consider these benefits when selecting a tree species and when coming up with the landscape design. With a wide range of $150 to $3,000 per tree, homeowners have a lot to think about when choosing trees.
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Prevention of Land Erosion
A tree’s root system spreads out beneath the ground, acting as an anchor to help keep the soil from eroding. Having five small trees, such as fir or pine trees, professionally planted on a slope will help retain the earth as the trees grow. Homeowners might pay an average of $60 to $140 per tree for this type of tree.
Increase in Home Value
Incorporating trees into the landscape may increase the home’s value by as much as 15 percent, but that doesn’t mean planting a few trees here and there is all that’s needed to get a better price when the home goes on the market. Trees are just one part of the overall landscape design, and the more enticing the entire yard appears, the more likely it will bring a premium price when sold.
Saving money on heating and cooling bills tops almost every homeowner’s list, and trees can play a vital role in reducing a home’s carbon footprint. Locating trees where they will shade a home’s windows from the hot summer sun will minimize thermal transfer, so the AC unit doesn’t have to work as hard or as long in the summer.
Natural Bird Attractant
Adding trees to the landscape provides nesting places for songbirds, and fruit trees, such as cherry and mulberry, provide an additional food source for the birds. Birds naturally prefer taller trees with protective boughs and branches for nesting. Still, if you’re not ready to shell out the $1,500 to $3,000 it costs to plant a large tree (over 15 feet tall), opt for a smaller, fast-growing tree, such as Thuja Green Giant, which costs under $20 for a 1- to 2-foot specimen that will grow quickly into a tall tree that birds will enjoy.
Their excellent air-cleaning benefits offset the cost of planting trees. As part of their photosynthesis process, trees absorb pollutants such as carbon dioxide and emit pure oxygen. A single large tree can emit enough oxygen for four people for a single day. Adding trees to the landscape is an environmentally friendly way to improve the air quality on the planet.
Cost to Plant a Tree: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Every spring, lawn and garden centers are awash in plants and trees that homeowners can purchase, haul home, and plant themselves. This is a significant savings over hiring a professional tree-planting company, but it requires knowing how to plant a tree to achieve the best (and healthiest) results. Many small trees can be purchased for under $100 at a garden center, but it’s not a deal if the tree doesn’t survive.
A professional landscaping company can help advise a homeowner on which type of tree is best suited to a particular spot in the yard, and knowledgeable landscapers can plant the tree in a way to best ensure its survival. In addition, while a professionally planted tree ranges from $150 to $3,000, the company may offer a warranty or replacement if the tree doesn’t survive.
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How to Save Money on Cost to Plant a Tree
Having trees planted can be an expensive prospect—ranging as high as $3,000 to have a large tree planted by a tree-planting company. Many homeowners are looking for ways to cut tree-planting costs while still reaping the many benefits of having trees.
- Settle for smaller trees. While it’s nice to have the instant landscaped effect of large trees, a single smaller tree costs $150 to $300 to have planted.
- DIY the project. Many homeowners purchase potted trees online or at garden centers and do the planting themselves. Just know that the tree may not live as long as a professionally planted one.
- Plant multiple trees. If you have the trees professionally planted, a landscaping company may offer a break when purchasing numerous trees. Having five small trees planted costs $300 to $700, which reduces the cost per tree to about $60 to $140.
Cost to Plant a Tree: Caring for a New Tree
Planting trees is an investment in the landscape and a home’s value, but newly planted trees require special care to survive and thrive. The following tips can help new trees get off to a healthy start.
- Install a drip system. Immediately after planting a new tree, the landscaper will soak the roots thoroughly with water. This is an essential step in encouraging strong root growth during the first few weeks of planting. Installing a drip system that can be programmed to irrigate at the base of the new trees will ensure they receive enough water and will cost an average of $410 to $930.
- Add mulch around the base of the tree. A professional landscaper will usually create a ring of mulch around the base of a newly planted tree to direct water to the tree roots and shade the ground to reduce evaporation. A bag of mulch costs about $4 and will cover up to 8 square feet.
- Keep the tree trimmed. Many young trees require staking and occasional trimming to develop an attractive shape. A brand-new tree may not need this, but it pays to have young trees inspected and trimmed annually to help them develop to their best potential. The cost to trim a tree under 30 feet ranges from $75 to $450.
Questions to Ask About the Cost to Plant a Tree
While many homeowners opt to purchase and plant their own trees to save money, others prefer having a landscape company or tree-planting company plant the trees for them. Before hiring a landscaping or tree-planting company, it pays to ask a few questions.
- What sort of warranty comes with the tree? Landscaping companies may offer a 1-year guarantee that the tree will live. However, that may be contingent on the homeowner adequately watering the tree.
- What about a multiple tree discount? A landscape company will often offer a cut on the price of trees they sell and plant if the buyer orders five or more trees. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Can I save money by purchasing my own trees? This is an iffy one because some landscaping companies maintain their own tree nurseries. You may save money by buying a tree from a different garden center—or online—but the company that plants the tree will usually not offer a guarantee it will survive
The benefits of planting trees are innumerable and include improved curb appeal, increased home value, and a healthier environment. Still, the cost to plant trees adds up quickly, so most homeowners are likely to have a few questions about how much it costs to have trees planted and how to keep them healthy.
Q. How much should it cost to plant a tree?
Expect to pay between $150 and $3,000 to have a tree professionally planted. The final tally will depend on the size and type of the tree, whether special equipment is required, and how accessible the planting site is.
Q. How much does a full-grown tree cost?
Not all full-grown trees can be transplanted if their root systems exceed the size of a tree spade. In general, however, transplanting a mature or large tree runs from $1,500 to $3,000.
Q. How do I maintain my landscape?
Regular landscape maintenance is necessary for keeping the yard looking good and includes fertilizing, pruning, soil testing, and aerating. These essential maintenance services will cost an average of $4 to $6 per square foot, while more advanced services, such as constructing raised gardens or installing a whole new sod lawn, can run $10 to $40 per square foot.
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