Skid Steer Tree Spade Maintenance

Gearing up for tree transplanting season? Before you hit the ground running to move as many trees as you can during the busy season, there’s one important thing BIG JOHN owners need to do: annual maintenance checks! And small tree spades are no stranger to routine maintenance schedules.

If you’re a small tree spade owner, you know how important it is to keep your spades running smoothly to get the most out of your machine. Maintenance checks not only help prolong the life of your mini skid steer tree spade, but it can help save you money too. 

We teach our BIG JOHN family how to properly check their tree spades and give it the maintenance it needs to keep getting the job done! We advise doing visual checks each time you move a tree but giving your rig a close once over annually can help your spade stay in great shape longer. 


If you’ve read through the BIG JOHN skid steer tree spade manual, you’ll remember that we advise cleaning and lubing your spade with a light chain lube. Your quick attach tree spade is working hard, so make sure you’ve cleaned off dirt, sand, or debris after every move and lubricate blade towers and grease all bushings and pivot shafts. 

At BIG JOHN we believe that keeping your tools cleaned and oiled makes them last longer! If you’ve skimped on cleaning & lubing your spade, it’s better late than never. 


Check your hydraulic lines for regular wear and tear from moving trees. Hydraulic lines can wear overtime because of rubbing or when rubber coatings dry out. We recommend checking your lines every hookup but giving them a close once-over annually is a necessity.

Replacing your hydraulic lines should be done every couple of years to prevent leaks and damage to your skid steer spade. We’ve designed our spades to make replacing lines easier than our competitors so you can take care of your spade with less work. 


Check for proper adjustment and bushing wear. Do you need new slides or rolls? We also recommend checking annually to get a good visual of everything. Slides are designed to last through thousands of digs but may need to be replaced in very high volume nurseries. It’s an easy maintenance fix to keep your skid steer running for a long time!

Use Your Skid Steer Spade Manual 

When you purchase a BIG JOHN skid steer tree spade, we provide you with a manual that helps you walk through all the lubrication and cleaning checks. We recommend using a high pressure water or detergent based cleaning solution on your machine regularly too. 

Our spades are durable and built to last. We pride ourselves on providing our BIG JOHN family with quality spades that have lasted some customers decades. One way we do that is providing customers with instructions on how to properly clean and care for your spade after each use so it can keep getting the job done.

If you don’t have a manual, give us a call and we can send one your way.

Need Skid Steer Spade Maintenance Help? Give Us a Call!

If you find that your spade needs a little more TLC than anticipated, you can always bring it in for maintenance and assistance. In most cases, we can help you troubleshoot over the phone to solve maintenance issues and guide you through how to get the most out of your skid steer spade attachment

As part of the BIG JOHN family, we’re always here to help. If you’ve done your checks and need parts, aren’t sure if what you’re looking at is okay or needs some work, or just have questions about your spade, give us a call!

Skid Steer Tree Spades Improve Survivability for Small Trees

If you’re a nursery owner then you’re probably worried about moving and transplanting trees and what that means for tree survivability—and the effects on your bottom line. At BIG JOHN, we offer skid steer tree spades that take care of your trees in the transplanting process to improve survivability and decrease your tree losses. 

BIG JOHN has been a leader in the tree spade industry for over 40 years and we help our clients move their trees with ease and care. It’s no secret that we paved the way for nursery owners and better productivity with innovative tree spade designs since our beginnings. 

We take the same durability and ease of operation our larger spades are known for and put it into a smaller design to suit your nursery needs. All of our designs are made to be adaptable and ready to dig in prepared soil to increase the survivability of your trees while being transplanted

Transplanting Small Trees with BIG JOHN Spade Attachments

If you are moving young trees, you need to consider their age, their root systems, and their ability to grow after being transplanted. Most trees take one year per inch in diameter of the tree trunk to fully recover after transplanting. After being uprooted and moved, trees could take much longer to recover if not properly transplanted with the right spade. 

But with the properly sized skid steer spade attachment, you can improve tree survivability and help your trees grow more quickly after transplanting. By moving a larger root ball with a skid steer spade, your trees are more likely to thrive—which increases your bottom line. 

We offer a number of blade configurations to give our customers the versatility they need from a skid steer to get the right sized root ball.

Skid Steer Designs to Fit Your Needs

When it comes to digging smaller trees, we know that there may be a need for special conditions or requirements to move them smoothly. Smaller spades allow you to dig easily, quickly, and carefully. 

At BIG JOHN, our skid steer tree spades are not a one-size-fits-all machine. Our tree spades come in a variety of sizes to accommodate unique needs such as soil conditions and row planting plans. 

We are able to add custom tree spades attachment to make it easier for you to operate while maintaining the life and quality of the trees at the same time. Our attachments and features include: 

  • Wireless Remotes
  • Extra Hydraulic Bays for Accessories
  • Adjustable Leveling Pads
  • Heavy Duty Gate Hinges
  • Durable Slide Blocks
  • Cold Formed Blades
  • Adjustable Valve Body Speed

BIG JOHN skid steer tree spades are not only adjustable and affordable but our heavy duty hinges are made to outlast other spade companies. Depending on the type of soil conditions your nursery is in, our nursery tree spades come in pointed, semi-truncated, and truncated with 30°, 25°, and 22° blade angles. 

Our skid steer tree spades are designed to easily maneuver through narrow planting rows so you don’t damage any surrounding trees or soil. You are able to dig new holes, uproot, and transplant trees all with one machine thanks to our skid steer tree spade design. 

Save Your Bottom Dollar

Affordability is important when you’re considering purchasing tree spades to help you get the job done around the nursery. The bottom line is—you pay for what you get. If you’re looking at a cheaper spade, you’re probably going to get less than half the quality of a more robust one and may damage your trees in the process. 

Our skid steer spades are designed to handle high volume jobs with the same type of quality and durability as our bigger spades. We’ve designed our spades to improve the size and shape of the root ball to increase tree survivability in a variety of conditions. 

You can also get everything you’re looking for for a better price. Some of our BIG JOHN family members have been owning and operating the same tree spade for over 40 years. You don’t have to replace parts or repair the machine as often as you would with a less durable one and can often dig thousands of more trees than cheap alternatives.

Speed up your nursery projects and take care of your trees at the same time with our BIG JOHN skid steer spades. You will get the most out of your projects while maintaining affordability. 

Give us a call to find out what tree spade best suits your needs. We’re happy to share our knowledge of tree spades to help your tree moving experience.  

Which Skid Steer Tree Spade Blade Configuration is Right for You?

If you’re a nursery owner, you probably have spent plenty of time figuring out what transplanting methods work best for you. Different skid steer attachment blade configurations can help you get the job done. If you are in the market for a BIG JOHN Tree Spade, we offer different tree digger options to fit your unique needs. 

Not sure which skid steer tree spade blade configuration is right for your needs? We’re here to help with more information about how to choose the right skid steer tree spade blades for your needs.

The Right Skid Steer Blade Configuration to Get the Job Done

If you’re in the business of tree transplanting or moving, you know that each job is unique and may require a variety of different equipment. We offer three different blade options to accommodate tree moving methods and soil conditions to give our customers the durability and versatility they need.

Pointed Blades

Our pointed blades are an “all purpose spade” for all types of soils.  These durable cold formed blades shear tap roots and work excellent in very sandy soils. They come at a 30 degree angle, which makes the bottom of them more narrow, minimizing the amount of soil that is lost when transplanting trees. 

Truncated Blades

Our 22 degree cold formed truncated blades are designed for use in prepared nursery ground.  They perform well in harder clay type soils. These blades have a wider bottom base. They produce a beautiful pot-shaped ball and make it easier to basket & burlap a tree.

Semi-Truncated Blades

If you are looking for a heavy duty compact machine, our BIG JOHN semi-truncated blades might be the right fit for you. Our semi-truncated blades come at a 25 degree angle on the tower and blades alike. Semi-Truncated blades are designed for nursery digging and easy transfer to flat bottom baskets. 

Our Blade Options for Skid Steer Tree Spade Attachments

BIG JOHN has been in the tree spade industry for over 40 years and we have consistently updated and improved our tree spade quality for our customers. Our skid steer tree spades offer the same kind of durability and reliability as our big spades we’re best known for. However, our high quality skid steer spades are adaptable and ready to dig in any prepared soil. 

We offer several customization options to fit your tree nursery needs. Our tree spade customizations and attachments for skid steers include: 

  • Size
  • Number
  • Shape
  • Position of blades
  • Hydraulic stabilizers
  • Adjustable leveling pads. 

Our skid steer tree spades come in 28, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48, 50, 52, 54, 58 and 60 inches and can be customized to attach to small wheel loaders and telehandlers. Our 3 point tractor mounted blade options come in pointed, truncated & semi truncated. 

Regardless of what your needs may be, anyone can operate a BIG JOHN tree spade with ease. 

Need help figuring out which tree spade is right for you? Our BIG JOHN team can help! Contact us today to talk to one of our reps that can help explain options and what may suit your needs best.