How Much Does a Skid Steer Tree Spade Attachment Cost?
No matter how much we love trees, transplanting or removing them is hard work. When you want a convenient, simple tool to do the job, nothing beats a skid steer tree spade attachment.
Think of a tree spade as a hydraulically powered shovel (because that's basically what it is). It cuts through both the soil surrounding the tree and the root system near the trunk. You need to match your attachment to your skid steer's specs and capabilities. You also have to choose between three different spade types, each with its own pros and cons.
How Do Tree Spades Work?
The tree spade attaches to the front of your loader and requires a skid steer with an operating capacity of at least 1,650 pounds. Ideally, your loader also has good visibility, including a cab with a see-through roof so that the operator maintains a clear line-of-sight with the tree at all times.
The operator lowers the spade, using the equipment's hydraulics and weight to make the cut into the ground. Typically, multiple passes are required to work around the entire tree for clean removal.
Tree spade size requirements depend on the diameter of the tree trunk, measured at around 1' above ground level. Multiply that number by 10 to account for the root ball. In other words, if you have a 4" diameter trunk, you likely have around 40" of root ball to cut through. In general, skid steer tree spade attachments offer a ball diameter between 18" and 44".
Choosing the right attachment also requires understanding the specs and capabilities of your loader, particularly its operating load or lift capacity. Remember, you need to worry about the weight of the attachment itself as well as that of the tree and the root ball. A smaller skid steer with a weight capacity between 1,650 and 1,800 pounds typically supports a tree spade with a 24" ball diameter. Larger machines, those rated between 2,200 and 2,800 pounds, should be able to handle attachments up to 44".
Cone shaped blades have a more shallow angle, so they create less ball than models with steeper angles (truncated and undercutting types).
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Type of Tree Spade Attachments
There are three types of tree spade attachments:
- Cone: Completely cuts the roots thanks to blades that close completely.
- Truncated: The vertical blade angle maximizes the root structure, which gives you a pot-shaped root ball, creating a flat base that allows for easier transplanting.
- Undercutting: Cuts under the root ball, cutting all the roots for maximum support when lifting the tree. Ideal for both loose, sandy soils and clay-type soils.
For transplanting, most people prefer the truncated and undercutting spades, as they preserve more of the root, which increases the likelihood of a successful transplant.
How Much Does a Tree Spade Attachment Cost?
With so many factors contributing to cost, tree spade pricing varies widely. You can find a very basic unit for small trees for under $1,000, or spend $16,000 or more for attachments capable of cutting a 40" root ball.
- Rural King CJJ skid steer attachments tree spade, single-blade shovel, price range: $700 to $800
- Bobcat’s TS24T tree spade skid steer attachment tree transplanter, hoses and skid steer flat face couplers, 7-pin electrical plug, truncated blades, price range: $5,500 to $6,000
- Spartan Equipment skid steer tree spade attachment and transplanter, cuts a 40" diameter tree ball, fully truncated, removable 1/4" thick steel blades set at 25 degrees, price range: $15,500 to $16,000
- Spartan Equipment skid steer tree spade attachment and transplanter, cuts a 30" diameter root ball, fully truncated, removable 3/8" thick steel blades set at 25 degrees, price range: $10,500 to $11,000
- Dirt Works 30” Hydraulic tree spade attachment, cuts a 30" diameter root ball, 30 degrees, 1/4" grade 50 hard wear plate, truncated style pointed blades, price range: $3,500 to $4,000
- Titan 36" Tree Spade skid steer attachment, cuts a 36" diameter root ball, fully truncated, removable 3/8" thick steel blades set at 25 degrees, price range: $800 to $900
Tree Spade Maintenance and Safety
You get the best results if you remember these basic protocols. And remember: Always call before you dig!
- Protect the tree branches before operating the tree spade
- Center the spade to the tree trunk
- Don't operate the tree spade around bystanders
- Grease pivots and metal sliding surfaces as per manufacturer instructions
- Sharp blades reduce root damage
- Before storing, protect electrical components and coat blades with a rust inhibitor