Wholesale Tree Prices for Bulk Quantities

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    Richard Freeland


    I have a project where I’m mitigating tree replacement for work done on a GDOT R.O.W. The impacted project area is about 3.5 acres. GDOT requires developers do a tree survey and locate all trees 4″ cal. or above. Trees removed must be replaced at a rate of 1/2 the total cal. inches DBH. The 3.5 acres is being graded, and is heavily wooded, & there are a bunch of large cal. trees, so my client is going to be replacing a heck of a lot of trees. My questions:

    1) has anyone done a GDOT mitigation similar to this one and, if so, are they flexible in allowing smaller replacement tree sizes. (they want trees replaced at a min. 2.5″ cal. DBH). Mitigating this site at even 2.5″ is going to be really expensive, and that’s just for buying the trees, not to mention installation and future maintenance costs.

    2) does anyone have an idea of what shade trees at 2.5″ cal. are going for wholesale if bought at bulk prices, and the best source or sources for obtaining them?

    Other project info: GDOT requires that 75% of total trees be large canopy shade trees, and 75% of the total must be native trees.

    Any other advice on this project would be greatly appreciated.

    Kindest regards,

    Rick Freeland

    Sherwood Botsford

    A local contractor and I collaborated on a remediation project for a new sewage plant in a provincial park.  The original spec called for a lot of 4-5 inch trees, but the side was a stream flood plain that was not much better than a gravel quarry.  

    We pointed out that large trees were going to be very expensive, and proposed a project using a bunch of 4 foot lodgepole in 40 liter  growbags, along with  lots of 2 gallon dogwood, chokecherry and wild rose.  I forget what else.

    Our survival rate was over 90%.  The stakeholders were quite pleased.

    Much depends on who the site ecologist is.  You need to establish a working relationship with them.  If each can explain their rationales to the other, you have a good chance of getting a good solution at a reasonable price.

    Now, I don’t know where you are, so I can’t recommend specifics.  In general however you are trying to establish a mature forest in minimum time without breaking the bank.


    A:  Plant large numbers of whatever local variety of poplar and willow grow well in your area.  These grow several feet per year (In Alberta we can get 4 feet a year with water)  You may have other hardwoods that do well.  Locals often regard them as trash trees, because they are everywhere.

    These grow fast and you have something that looks sort of foresty in a few years.

    B:  Don’t plant anything under 6 feet where the base is visilbe from the road.    This is how most people will see the site.   A quick row of 8 foot spruce alternating with pine…

    C:  To get reasonable density in a hurry, plant trees no closer than 8-10 feet apart, but put shrubs  between.  This can raise the native count, and provides soil cover

    D:  If you can get an inch of that lost topsoil back.  Mix in any source you can find of organic material — wood chips are great. This will help re-establish soil fungi that were scraped off.

    E:  If you can, get your trees from a local grower who either  field grows, or uses field soil as part of his mix.  


    The markup between wholesale and retail is typically between 2 and 2.5.  For my purchase and resell trees, if I buy a tree at 40 bucks I sell it at 100.  If they buy a bunch, I cut them a deal.

    I’m being asked to bid on a remediation job for a light rail transit ROW.  They want a bunch of 2″ poplar — That’s a good size, as it transplants well, and is big enough (12-15 feet) to look significant.  I normally don’t grow them that big, so I priced them out on a buy and resell.

    I asked for 1000 trees 2″ caliper.  I was quoted 150 bucks a tree, 3 year lead time.  That seemed high to me.  I figure I can do it for something like $30 tree input expenses, plus 10 a tree for transport to the client’s site.  My bid will be at $115/tree.

    In Canada Seedling conifers 0.17 to 0.85 for 1 yr plugs  Deciduous about 25 cents more.

    2 yr bare root seedlings of reclamation species — around a buck each in bundles of 100

    1 gallon container grown poplar and willow $3.50 each a hundred at a time (3-4 feet)

    Grafted ornamental stock $20 bare root double that in an 8-10 gallon pot.

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