If your yard is home to a large, healthy, mature tree that you may love but no longer want, read on before you call a tree-removal service to cut it down and take it away in pieces. You just might be able to give that old majestic giant a new life in a new yard with a new family that will appreciate it just as much as you have—and you could make a pretty penny doing it.

 Why Sell—and Who’s Buying?

There are various reasons why a tree may no longer be appropriate for your property. Many home owners, and even plenty of landscapers, make the mistake of planting young trees too close to the house or too close to other trees. As they mature and soar, their roots and branches crowd the home and one another, forcing the home owner to part with a perfectly good tree. In other cases, the tree simply grows too large, casts too much shade or requires too much work in the way of raking, pruning and other upkeep.

Most people pay a tree-removal service a good chunk of change to safely cut the tree down, cart it away and bury, grind down or otherwise destroy the stump. That’s because they don’t know that another option exists. In many cases, a specialty landscaper will pay you for the opportunity to remove the living tree, roots and all…store it…find a buyer…and transplant it to a new yard. These landscapers pay a ­premium for good trees because they’re not buying just wood and leaves—they’re buying time. An impressive mature tree may have taken 10, 20, 30 years or more to get that way—and if you can provide decades of growth in just one afternoon, you can expect to collect.

What’s Your Tree Worth?

If you’re thinking of selling a tree, it’s likely that your first consideration is how much you can get for it. The short answer is that it depends. There are many variables—including the type of tree, its age, height, health, branch structure and root structure, what region you’re in and other factors. Trees have sold for $500—and they have sold for up to $5,000.

What you’ll need to do is contact one (or better yet, several) landscapers who buy large trees and ask for offers (at no charge to you). The expert providing the valuation will want to see whether your tree has been properly sheared or radically pruned and whether it’s well-developed or attractive on only one side. The ease of getting to the roots also plays a role, as does the presence or lack of underground utilities.

Some types of trees are typically in higher demand than others and therefore are easier to sell and tend to fetch better prices. Flowering trees such as dogwoods and magnolias are ­especially popular, as are beech trees, Japanese maple trees—particularly the big, red ones—Japanese umbrella pines and heritage river birches. But any large, healthy tree has a chance of selling.

What’s Involved in Removal

There are various ways to remove a tree, all of which involve large, heavy specialty equipment designed to ­create and secure a movable root-ball. In some cases, landscapers will dig a trench around the roots. In other cases, they’ll “evacuate” the roots by blasting away dirt with pressurized air. A massive, bladed machine called a tree spade gathers the root-ball and transports the tree. It’s difficult, invasive work, but reputable companies prep the area with protective materials to prevent damage to the driveway, sidewalk, lawn, house and other ­surroundings.

Under ideal circumstances with the proper access, the whole process can be done in a single afternoon. It’s important to note that this is never a do-it-yourself project even if your neighbor 50 feet away is ready to pay you for your tree. You’re almost certain to kill the tree and—between water, gas and electric utilities, the powerful specialty equipment you’d have to rent and the massive, unstable tree itself—you’re likely also to hurt yourself or damage your property. To find a company that performs this work, search online for “selling mature tree,” “tree relocation” or “tree movers,” along with your zip code.

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