You Can Sell a Live Tree From Your Yard
gardening and landscape

You Can Sell a Live Tree From Your Yard

Did you know you can sell a live tree from your yard?

That’s a thing!

Make sure it’s actually your tree growing in YOUR yard though.

It might not be super common to sell a live tree from your yard, but it does happen.

Determining if this is a viable option comes down to different factors. Is there demand for your tree? Is your tree healthy? Is your tree accessible or worth the effort of digging up?

I recently embarked on a tree selling adventure, so I thought my experience might help you.

We have a very mature Japanese Maple growing right next to our pool.

The tree seems to like it there and it is nice to have a spot of natural shade in the summer. However, the tree’s location creates a pool maintenance nightmare.

I don’t want to cut down the tree, but I really don’t want the tree there either. I’d be so much happier if the tree had been planted 10 feet outside of the pool fence.

Was that too much to ask? Apparently.

You Can Sell a Live Tree From Your Yard

I contacted area nurseries and landscape designers to see if anyone would buy my tree and come dig it up.

In all honesty, I heard “no” a lot.

However, one of the larger nurseries said, “Yes!”

Their “yes” meant they do buy live trees from homeowners and they would be willing to take a look at it.

I took pictures of the tree and emailed them to the nursery. They followed up with a site visit.


#1: You probably won’t get rich selling one tree from your yard. 

Don’t be surprised if the nursery only offers you 10% of the tree’s retail value. It could be higher depending on where you live and the type of tree, but it is best to go into this process with low expectations.

The nursery is the one fronting all of the costs for digging up the tree. This will likely involve heavy machinery, possibly a crane, and a truck to transport the tree. Then they have to keep the tree alive and hope they can sell it to another customer.

There are always exceptions to this rule. I have heard anecdotally of people in California being offered thousands of dollars for those really tall palm trees because they were in such high demand by commercial real estate developers.

You may be able to negotiate a higher price for your tree, especially if you take store credit instead of cash.

#2: Demand is a consideration.

It’s the old supply and demand equation.

The tree you want to sell needs to be a type and size that a nursery’s customers want to buy.

If you’re trying to sell a tree that is super common to your area, don’t get your hopes up that there is demand for this type of tree.

You Can Sell a Live Tree From Your Yard

#3: Accessibility to the tree is a concern.

If heavy machinery is required to dig up a tree, then being able to access the tree factors into the viability of digging it up.

In our case, the Japanese Maple is sandwiched right between a fence and our pool deck. Not ideal, but doable.

#4: Your tree needs to be healthy. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, the tree you want to sell needs to be healthy.

Think about the last time you bought a plant. Did you buy the one that looked like it was about to die or the one that was healthy and robust?

Most people want to buy a healthy tree. Especially if that tree is going to cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The nursery will likely come out to conduct a visual inspection of the tree to make sure it is healthy. Don’t be afraid to contact them during the winter about your tree. They like to see trees when they are dormant too.

You Can Sell a Live Tree From Your Yard

#5: Ask a lot of questions. 

If you agree to sell your tree to a nursery, it never hurts to ask them a lot of questions about the process and what to expect. They are digging on your property after all!

Some questions you could ask include:

What equipment will end up being onsite the day they dig up your tree?
How long with the process take?
How many people will be onsite?
Are they calling in locates for underground wires and pipes?
What does their insurance cover should something bad happen?

To that end, what does your homeowner’s insurance cover should something bad happen?

Let’s wrap this up with the million dollar question.

Did we sell our live tree from our yard?

As it turns out, this was the first time this particular nursery declined to buy someone’s Japanese Maple. Our tree had been pruned very aggressively. It’s not obvious until you get up close to the tree, but a large limb (maybe 6 inches in diameter) had been removed at some point in this tree’s life. We didn’t do it!

Apparently, buying a tree is a lot like buying apples from the grocery store. People want the perfect, shiny ones. Our tree, with that pruning mark, was no longer perfect.

Plus, this nursery had bought two Japanese Maples from a customer last year that they still had not sold, so that might have factored into the equation as well.

What will we do now?

Probably live with the tree. It really is pretty when the leaves change to that deep red color.

All is not wasted though. I am happy I can share my experience with you because I couldn’t find a ton of information about this process online.

In no way do I have all the answers because I’m not a tree expert, but I hope this gives you a starting point to consider the possibility of what to do if you want to sell a tree from your yard.

If you have any tips or advice for other homeowners on this topic, please leave them in the comments.

Thanks for being here today! Here are some other posts you might enjoy. 

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  • Kathy Betty

    Digging up a tree already planted in the ground, especially if it’s been there many years is risky. They can go into shock and die just from this experience. My husband and I had a tree nursery for many years. We planted trees when little into 1 foot, 2 foot and 3 foot wooden boxes. After many years of growth we would sell them to landscapers and individuals for their yards. When you plant trees in boxes you just break up the box and plant the whole tree and dirt in the ground. They survive much better this way.

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