skid steer tree spades


LawnSite Senior Member
Have any of you guys used a tree spade on a skid steer? Are they actually effective enough to warrant renting or maybe even buying one? I have 20+small trees/bushes to move on a project and am trying to figure out the most effective way to move these, and to insure their longevity. I have a Cat 257 that would handle one. I am also going to have my mini ex. on the job, but some are somewhat tall and I always seem to tear things up when I use the excavator on larger trees. I am also considering buying one of those tree "scoops" that different manft's have for sale. Thanks for your responses.


LawnSite Fanatic
Rigby, Idaho
Skid steer mounted tree spades are very effective. There are companies all over our area that transplant tree using these attachments. One companies has a fleet of 95XTs with 50" tree spades. These machines have the full counter weight kit (extra 1000 pounds), and rear stabilizers and steel tracks. They buy acreage and harvest the trees for resale. They move thousands of trees a year. If the trees are of size you may want to hire someone that is already equipped to handle the job. A 257 is rather small for medium to large trees. The spade carries the tree well in front of the machine. This requires a rather substantial skid steer to move bigger trees. With just 20 trees it may not warrant the purchase as some of these spades reach 10K in hurry. The large spades go over that. You may be able to rent one although I have not seen one rent but of course they may where your at.


LawnSite Silver Member
I got a guy coming with a case 95xt with a 48" spade with 2000lbs of counter weight to move 4 trees on a customer's property this friday. I will try to get you some shots. These little spades work better than you think.


LawnSite Senior Member
Illinois zone 5
Itsgottobegreen said:
I got a guy coming with a case 95xt with a 48" spade with 2000lbs of counter weight to move 4 trees on a customer's property this friday. I will try to get you some shots. These little spades work better than you think.

Did you get pictures?

Any one else have input about skid steer and tree spade sizes? It is an area of interest for me also...


LawnSite Bronze Member
Are tree spades or Hawk buckets used in your state? Niether one will work well in ours. The soils turn to concrete so we use a mini-ex and a crane or helicopter dependng on accessability for transplants.

If your soils are those which accept either the Hawk Bucket of the spade, then you could use then fairly successfully with the 257. On a word of caution though. Hawk buckets work best on front end loaders or rubber tired tractors. The upper pins and the boom just work alot better than they way most skid steer typoe bucket systems connect, and you will push clays all the way to the back of the bucket and jam it in there. With an open back like you can run on a wheel loader or a tractor, the Hawk bucket works much more efficiently.

I can tell you this because the sons of the original patent holder are good friends of mine. The buckets were made in Oswego, Illinois and eventually when the patent ran out, they were morphed by FCC and a few other manufacturers.

These guys had pictures in their shop with 2 D-8D (circa 1957) tractors one running in reverse and the other running forward moving a 40' wide Maple tree.

We had 3 Hawk buckets when we moved to Socal, and sold them off after futile efforts were made to make them work. It's all in the soil and how big of a tree you are moving.,


LawnSite Bronze Member
Madison, WI
CareTree, Dutchman, and Optimal tree spades are the three main spades I see on skids. CareTree and Dutchman would be the most popular but I see more and more Optimals out there because it keeps the root ball closer to the machine allowing a skid to use larger spades. I also think Optimal offers a lifetime warranty on their blades.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Huntsville, AL
A buddy of mine got a tree and trenching bucket that works great for smaller trees. I've borrowed it from him a couple times now. I can't find it online but here are two that are similar:

The one I have used is like these but has an open front and back; you can use it to back-dig a swale. It's handy.

Anyway, I transplanted 16 8' spruce trees in an hour using only this bucket. I used it to prep several holes, and then I would go to the tree and scoop it right out of the ground, and then set it right on the prepared hole... I was grinning like a moron the whole time, it was so easy.

If I find out who makes the one I used I will post it.


LawnSite Senior Member
This post isn't just old it is ancient, all the way back in 05 that is crazy.:hammerhead: