Colorado Tree Spade can move trees of all sizes Email
Written by Lyn Dean   
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 05:00 AM

Aaron Pfeifer and Susan Pfeifer, courtesy Colorado Tree Spade“The biggest challenge we face is most people have no idea trees can be moved!” says Susan Pfeifer, founder, Colorado Tree Spade, Highlands Ranch. “They tend to think if a tree is in a bad location, they either have to cut it down or just deal with it.” 

Pfeifer wants us to think again. Colorado Tree Spade has been moving trees for 35 years and has numerous success stories with customers ranging from homeowners with small properties to high-profile Front Range personalities with large properties to well-known commercial properties including the Pepsi Center, Denver Broncos Training Facility and The Broadmoor. “We still have clients we have worked with since the 1980s,” she says. 

Moving the big trees
One the most significant changes in the company’s business was when it started getting into larger machines—those that could handle bigger trees. “We were the first to have a 110-inch spade custom made. Then we went on to have a 124-inch machine made, the biggest size that could be made as a mobile unit,” says Pfeifer. “This opened up work for us across the nation, not just in Colorado.”

Bigger spades are rare, which means Colorado Tree Spade’s fleet can handle bigger tree jobs and can collaborate with other tree movers as subcontractors. Pfeifer sees her company as a partner—not a competitor—with other tree-moving companies, and also a partner with landscape companies. “We can help them do their work.”

Currently, the company owns eight spades in various sizes and has the largest fleet and widest variety in the state, and one of the largest in North America, according to Pfeifer. She adds that the largest tree spade, which can carry trees 40 feet tall with a root ball weighing over 40,000 pounds, is used only to move trees on the same property because the loaded truck is not road legal.

Get the word out about transplanting trees
Anyone who wants a tree, or owns an unwanted tree, or knows someone who wants or owns a tree, is a potential client. Her company can move bigger trees than the ball and burlap trees landscape contractors get from a nursery, and transplanted trees have a high survival rate.

Many of the company’s transplanted trees are moved to a different location on a client’s property or to a different property of the client. Other clients donate unwanted trees to a charitable organization, such as a church property, local parks or schools.

The company has a list of people who want big trees and looks for “homeless trees,” trees that people no longer want.

Transplanting trees can be cost-effective
The company maintains that moving established trees more than 12 to 14 feet in height is more cost-effective than buying a similarly sized nursery tree and planting. The cost to buy a 14- to 20-foot tree could be at least $2,000. Colorado Tree Spade says that the average cost to transplant a mature tree starts at about $600 and it has a high likelihood of survival. Importantly, a tree is saved that might have been cut down. 

Furthermore, when a tree is removed from a property, typically the recipient pays for the entire move. This means property owners can have their trees removed for free! Better yet, by ‘donating’ the tree to a 501(c)3 charity, the tree owner could receive a tax deduction for the value of the tree! 

“When landscape companies and arborists consider tree removal, I wish more took into account transplanting and saving trees as an alternative to cutting them down,” says Aaron Pfeifer, son of Susan Pfeifer and her successor in the business.

This is an excerpt from a story in the September/October 2019 issue of Colorado Green. Read the full story online.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Denver approaching community wildlife habitat certification
Awards are good for business and for your team
Colorado Springs irrigation customers need backflow testing
Greater & Greener 2019 Conference showcased host city Denver