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Largest tree you can plant manually without machinery?

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Aug 18, 2014
602 posts
383 upvotes
Markham, ON

Largest tree you can plant manually without machinery?

What's typically the largest tree 2 people can plant without using a spade or any machinery?

We want to plant a tree in the backyard but there isn't any room for a tree spade to enter.
We shopped around and it seems like the price doesn't differ too much between a very young tree and an older tree (2-4" caliper).

I know there are many many variables, but just looking for a general idea.
e.g. is 3" caliper / 8ft tall tree consider: 1) Okay 2)Difficult but possible 3) Insane to be planted without machinery?

What about 2.5" or 3.5"?
I have help planted tree around 2" and it wasn't that difficult...just a lot of digging.
4 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 23, 2009
1783 posts
776 upvotes
They build pyramids without machinery so you know what I mean...Winking Face

Jokes apart, technically speaking you could plant any size of tree with just a mechanical augur at your disposal. Realistically speaking, you can dig a hole up to 2 feet deep and any width with mechanical augur (the one that you can rent for digging fence post holes). Or you could manually dig the hole using a pick but will be a lot of hard work.

I haven't seen any (ready to plant) large trees with root ball bigger than 2 feet deep and wide. Should be easy. You don't have to bury the entire root ball (just about 3/4th) and the roots will find their way down.
Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest, Sir? - Because it is there.

— George Leigh Mallory
[OP]
Sr. Member
Aug 18, 2014
602 posts
383 upvotes
Markham, ON
ruchir wrote: They build pyramids without machinery so you know what I mean...Winking Face

Jokes apart, technically speaking you could plant any size of tree with just a mechanical augur at your disposal. Realistically speaking, you can dig a hole up to 2 feet deep and any width with mechanical augur (the one that you can rent for digging fence post holes). Or you could manually dig the hole using a pick but will be a lot of hard work.

I haven't seen any (ready to plant) large trees with root ball bigger than 2 feet deep and wide. Should be easy. You don't have to bury the entire root ball (just about 3/4th) and the roots will find their way down.
I am not too worried about digging...(just grunt work, you can dig a pretty big holes with a shovel in 4 hours with 2 people)

Just concerned about moving a tree that might weight few hundred lbs and moving it into position.
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1901 posts
1066 upvotes
London
We bought a Greenspire Linden for our backyard a few years ago. It was about 14 feet tall or so, trunk was about 5-6 inches in diametre (maybe 7). We paid $240 for the tree and another $150 for planting. The planting included delivery, moving to the backyard, digging, planting, soil additives (fertilizer, proper soil etc). They used a tree dolly to get it from the truck to the hole. Having them plant it also provided an 'extended' warranty as well iirc. It is amazing how big and heavy the root ball can be.

Good Luck. It was well worth us paying to have it planted.

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