This will depend on the tree, where it is located, and how much you want to trim off it.

Generally, it is cheaper to trim a tree than cut it down, but if it needs trimming every 3 years, it is going to be cheaper in the long run to remove the tree.

Let’s look at the cost of both and some things to consider.

Is It Cheaper To Trim or Cut Down A Tree

On average you will pay around $380 to trim a tree. However, the range is from $75 for a small tree and can go up to $1,180 for large ones.

However, even in this case, the price will vary depending on several factors such as access, and type of trim. size of the tree and the number of branches being removed.

Cost of cutting down a tree

On average, tree removal costs around $1,265 per tree. The actual range is between $425 and can go as high as $7,900 for large trees.

Obviously, like tree trimming, there are many factors that contribute to the cost of tree cutting. The main one is size, followed by the location of the tree, access, and difficulty to remove.

Cost of cutting down a tree

Under what circumstances could cutting down a tree be cheaper?

There are some cases where you will find cutting down a tree is cheaper than trimming it.

The first case is if there is enough space for the tree to drop on. In that case, the only work done is cutting it at the trunk. However, in this case, you will not consider the cost of cleaning up all the debris. This is just cutting the tree down.

In case you have a tree with very large branches such as an oak tree and it has already proved to be a nuisance to you, then cutting it down at once can be cheaper than trimming all the large branches.

Another case is where the tree is infested by pests, diseased, and structurally unstable but there is enough space for the tree to fall on. Cutting it down at once will be cheaper than cutting it down.

How to get tree services for less

There are a couple of things you can do to save money on tree trimming and removal.

Time of year

The cheapest time of year to remove a tree is in the winter. There is very little work on so tree services will compete for your business driving the price down.

Negotiate a hard bargain

There are quite a few things you can negotiate with a tree service to drive down prices.

  1. Offer them the timber
  2. Leave the stump on the ground
  3. Leave the logs on site (give them away as firewood)
  4. remove the green waste yourself
  5. Offer better access to heavy equipment

How to determine whether to cut down or trim a tree?

Is the nuisance temporary?

When you have a tree that has become a nuisance either because of too much shade, broken branches, or infested branches, it is better to trim it instead of cutting it down completely.

However, when you have a tree that is unstable, or dead, causing a major danger to the surrounding it is better to cut it down completely.

Size of the tree

The size of the tree is used to calculate the cost of removal more than any other factor. When looking at the size of the tree to determine whether to trim or cut, you have to look at several factors. Such factors will include the number of branches, size of the branches, height of the tree, trunk diameter, and tree structure. That way you will see which option requires more work.

Trim or cut, are there obstacles?

Consider the type of obstacles surrounding the tree. Obstacles such as power lines and buildings can determine whether it is cheaper to trim or remove a tree.

Make sure that you get an arborist near you to assess the tree and tell you which is the best action to take. Getting a tree service company to assess the tree and give you a quote will also enable you to determine whether you should cut or remove the tree.

What make the difference in price?

The difference between the cost of trimming a tree and cutting it down is brought by the amount of work required to do the job.

The following are some of the factors that play a major role.

Amount of work

In most cases, removing a tree will pose a more difficult job compared to trimming it. Unless in cases where the tree is small and trimming, the branches will not require a lot of resources.

In cases where the tree is large, there are so many skills required to make sure that the tree is cut safely without causing damage to other trees or areas.

A trunk diameter or system for example will pose a great challenge. Controlling how a tree falls based on its limb system is also a major challenge to a tree service company. This is what makes the cost of cutting down a tree high in most cases.

NB: There are a few cases where the cost of cutting a tree may be lower. For example; trimming a 5ft tall tree in an open area versus cutting it down, the cutting may be cheaper. This is because the tree is small, and less work to be done or resources required.


Access to a tree is always a major factor whether it is during trimming or cutting it down. When it comes to trimming a tree, there is little equipment required hence even when the access is small it is possible.

However, when it comes to cutting down a tree, access is everything. For a company to control how the tree falls, they need to access the area and create a good room.

Take a case where you have a 40ft oak tree, in a residential area. Trimming such a tree may not be so much of a problem provided there is a small room around it.

However, cutting it down requires machines such as cranes to access it to remove it safely. This makes trimming a cheaper operation.


Obstacles are also a major factor. The room required to cut down a tree is larger than trimming a tree. In cases where there are obstacles such as buildings and power lines, a tree service company will have to manage the situation.

Due to this, it will become difficult to manage cutting down a tree as compared to trimming it. When trimming, it is easy to cut the branches and lift them to avoid interfering with the obstacles.

That makes it cheaper to trim a tree when compared to cutting it down.

Machines used

When you have the same type of trees and the same size. The type of machine used to cut down a tree is more than the ones used to trim it.

This makes trimming a cheaper operation as compared to cutting it down.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.