How Many Trees Can You Plant Per Acre?

Tree forest

On average you can expect to plant anywhere from 300-800 trees per acre. Now, this number can be increased or decreased depending on the conditions being provided in the area. Some of these include access to water, nutrients, sunlight, and the species you are planting.

If you own some land it can be a good idea to start a small plantation or grow trees as a hobby. There can be multiple reasons from pleasing your eye, saving the environment, or making some money. Before you begin, you need to have some idea about what sort of output or coverage you can expect. I have come across a lot of people who have wrong ideas about how many trees they can grow on a particular piece of land. The output also depends on a lot of factors and can be controlled to some extent. Let’s take a look.

How many trees can you plant on an acre of land?

The truth here is that the answer depends on a lot of factors. It depends on the type of soil you have, the amount of rainfall or water you have access to. And the most important factor is the output you want. Are you looking for a forest cover or efficient output to grow trees for selling?

Let’s address the first factor, the type of soil. If you have dry soil with less nutrient density then you will have to give more spacing between the trees and the rows. In this case, you will also have to take out any other vegetation left on the land. This is because of the competition to the tree for access to nutrients and water. This tip goes for both achieving a forest cover and optimum output.

If you live in a relatively dry region, you will have to space out the trees a little bit more than you would normally have. You have to think of it this way: There is a limited amount of resources available on a given land, trees have to compete within that quantity of resources. This is why you have to ensure that each tree has enough access to each of the resources.

The next factor is the species you are using. If you are going to plant fast-growing species with slow-growing ones, the result is not going to be nice. The former will grow a lot while stealing all the food and nutrients from the slow-growing ones. So, the number of trees sown in this arrangement will have to be lower.

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Planting arrangement?

Trees before planting

Usually, people prefer to plant trees in rows. There is the benefit of having a movement area for the planter during watering and pruning. This also gives off that neatly arranged look. You can also go for a more natural look by planting the trees in an arbitrary manner.

The usual distance between rows while planting is about 8 feet, which equates to 2.4m.  the distance between the trees themselves depends on the output and the species you are planting.

For example, for forests, you will have to give more spacing. Sugar maple needs a distance of about 30 feet (10m ) between them for a healthy output. Balsam Fir, on the other hand, is a type of Christmas tree that only needs a distance of about 6 feet (1.8m).

The same system also applies to conifer trees as well. A distance of 8 feet (2.4m) between the rows and 6 feet or 1.8m between the trees themselves. With these numbers in mind, you can plant about 900 trees per acre in ideal conditions.

Hardwoods on the other hand only need a distance of 5.5 feet (1.5m) between them. But the gap between the rows needs to be about 10 feet or 3m. If you follow this system, you can plant about 880 trees per acre in ideal conditions.

Square graph

I am going to be attaching a graph of a square plantation with an equal distance between the rows and trees. The resulting number of trees is just an estimation. These numbers can vary according to soil and nutrient availability.

Distance between trees (meters)Distance between trees (feet)Trees per acre

A lot of these numbers vary a little bit depending on the source you check. In reality, you should ask your local nursery or the about the needs of particular species. These numbers should be just used as a baseline

Nursery for trees

How much does it cost to plant an acre of trees?

The costs associated with planting trees vary as well. Think about it, there are so many factors involved. The size of the tree you are planting will make a lot of difference. Along with this the labor costs involved, especially if you dealing with larger trees. The cost of fertilizers, water management, permits, and taxes. All of these can be add up to be pretty steep.

Obviously, there is the option of doing it yourself. This will be way cheaper but kind of gets difficult if you are dealing with a larger area. This is also not a viable plan if you are planting large or medium-sized trees to begin with.

The estimates which I am going to show to you is what you can save if you decided to do it yourself.

If you are dealing with smaller pot trees, each tree can cost about 35$-75$. Keep in mind that this amount also includes any of the transportation involved and the tree itself would be about 4 to 6 ft tall. This cost also covers the soil preparation and equipment needed. So basically, it will take you about 35$ to 75$ to plant a tree from scratch by yourself. The usual labor costs here would be about 30$ for 5 trees.

Note here that this cost represents one tree and other associated costs. But if you decide to buy in bulk which I am assuming you would, the overall costs come down significantly. Think about it, your equipment costs and soil preparation costs will be largely constant.

The tree themselves vary a lot in cost. Some cost less than 1$ per tree (saplings). While some species cost more than 20$ per tree. When buying in bulk the overall cost will be even lower. A good deal can give you about 200 trees for as low as 30$.

A medium tree that is about 8 to 10 feet will cost a bit more. With the higher side being about 190$ including other costs. A large tree that is about 15 to 20 feet tall can cost even more.

I am assuming that if you are going to plant an acre of trees, you likely go for saplings. At least I would. It does not make any sense to plant a whole acre of 6 ft long trees. That would be the most cost-efficient way, but it also takes the longest to grow a forest. (like ten years longer, which is nothing when compared to how long trees can live)

Anyway, in this case, I would assume you’ll pay 1-3 dollars per sapling and could plant 500 trees a day as a beginner. So if you are planting with 6 feet of space between saplings, it would take roughly two and a half days to get them all down.

In short, the trees would cost 1200 to 3600 dollars and the labor cost would be your time or an average daily salary in your area multiplied by tree.

How many trees grow per acre of land in a healthy forest?

This figure will depend on the type of forest you are considering. Evergreen forests in the tropics are very dense. The reason for this is the presence of very high levels of nutrients and ample sunlight. Coniferous trees which are another type of evergreens are also pretty dense.

On the other hand, forests in drier regions will be much more spacious. As the soil is dry and the levels of moisture and nutrients are low, there can’t be much growth. In these regions, there are anywhere from 30 to 50 trees per acre.

In tropical rainforests, it is a different story altogether. They are known to be so dense that you won’t be able to walk properly. You can expect anywhere from 200 to 1000 trees per acre. This is not taking into account the shrubs and small plants.

Tropical rainforest with fog

How to calculate how many trees grow on an acre of land?

The formula

If you are unsure about the number of trees you will need to order, there is a formula you can use.

T = A X 43,560/(S1 X S2)

So what does this formula means?

T = total number of trees

A = area of the land in acres

S1= space given between the rows (Ft)

S2= space between the trees (Ft)

The previous calculation will be helpful when you have to determine the number of trees you can plant in an area.

What about if you already have trees growing and you would like to know how many trees you have in your forest? You can roughly find out how many trees are already there.

Now, it will be extremely difficult to accurately measure the number of trees growing in an area. But you can find out a rough estimate.

To do this, calculate the number of trees in a smaller area. Once you do this, multiply that number by the total land area. This will give you a rough idea.

For example, make a circle with a radius of about 37 feet. Calculate the number of trees present in that circle. Once you have a number all you need to do is multiply that by 10. The number you end up with will be the number of trees in an acre.

Interestingly a circle of radius 37 feet is roughly 1/10th of an acre in terms of area.

Frequently asked questions

Can I grow different species of trees on the same plantation?

You can, but you should only go for it if you are going for a natural forest look. If you want efficient output from the plantation then it wouldn’t work as well. This is because of the different needs of different plants. One plant may grow faster and take away all the nutrients from the slow-growing one.

Can fast-growing and slow-growing trees coexist?

The answer is similar to the previous one. Fast-growing trees tend to take up more nutrients from the soil. This leaves very little for the slow-growing trees. And over time, the slow-growing trees will wither away and die.

Can I increase the number of trees on my land?

Of course, you can! Remember that trees need sunlight, water, and nutrients. If you optimize the amount and type of nutrients you are providing you can increase the number of trees growing on the land.

What is the difference between basal area and trees per acre?

Basal area is simply the area of the cross-section of a tree at about 4.5 feet high. Sometimes trees per acre is not enough to give an estimate of the density of a forest. So along with trees per acre, the basal area is also used to give a better idea.


To sum it all up, the number of trees on an acre can vary a lot. There are two ways to go about this, either growing them in rows or more like a forest. The number of trees being planted depends on the species and type of soil you are growing them in, among other factors. Based on this you can calculate the number of trees you can grow. On average, you are looking at anywhere from 300 to 900 trees per acre.

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