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How much does tree trimming cost? 2020 Price Guide.
Last updated: 11 March 2020
The cost of tree trimming varies depending on tree size, obstacles around the tree such as fences and power lines as well as number and size of branches being removed.
The average cost for tree trimming is $438. Realistically you could pay anywhere between $120 and $1200 depending on your job. These are based on national averages in 2018.
Asking how much tree trimming costs is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. They answer is…… it depends.
But this pricing guide is going to endeavour to do just that.
What we cover
Tree trimming cost by tree size
Cost per hour to have trees trimmed
What factors add to trimming price?
When is the best time of year to trim?
Best priced trimming service near me
Palm tree trimming cost
What should it really cost to trim trees?
DIY tree trimming
Shrub trimming prices
Tree trimming cost by tree size
The cost to trim a tree varies greatly by the size of the tree and some other factor as we will explain below. This guide will give you a price range you can expect to pay for your tree trim by its size.
Small tree trimming – 15 – 20 ft. tall
Removing 10 – 20% of the branches/ foliage of a tree this size would cost you between $ 250 and $525. It may cost a little more if it is a building clearance or a power line clearance trim, due to extra time taken to not do damage.
Medium tree trimming – 20 – 30 feet tall
Assuming again you are removing 10 – 20% foliage you could expect to pay between $390 and $720. When you think about it, depending on the tree being trimmed, this could be between 1 and 10 branches that need removing, so again it all depends.
Large tree trimming – 30 – 50 ft. tall
Depending on the type of prune this will cost you between $500 and $1200. If you were to get a building clearance, you are only removing a branch or two, but if it’s a total tree reduction there is more work involved and increased costs.
X Large tree trimming – 50 – 100 feet tall
Such larger trees do come with a bigger price tag for maintenance. $740 would be the base line and anything up to $2000 depending on the type of prune. Getting Crown thinning done will cost a lot more than a canopy lift for example.
Cheap tree trimming services near me
Finding cheap tree trimming service near you can be tough. Below are a few tips to do just that.
Hire in winter – By waiting to winter you will have an advantage as local tree trimming services are in their off season and need the work. In winter the supply and demand forces are in your favor. You will save a minimum of 25%.
Avoid marketers – Local tree trimming services that spend big on marketing like ads at the top of Google, Yelp, Yellow pages and signs around town will usually be more expensive. This is because they need to cover their higher costs of acquiring a customer. That’s you.
Get 4 quotes – I always suggest a minimum of 3 but 4 will be better. You don’t want to go with the first quote that “sounds reasonable” as you don’t know the market and a better price is most likely just around the corner.
Ask for options – When the local tree trimming service is looking at your tree job, be sure to ask them for two different prices including:
- One price for trimming and taking everything away.
- Another price to cut and leave on site. (You can dispose of yourself later).
Grant good access – If the tree to be trimmed is in your backyard, it is going to cost more just because it takes longer to drag the branches to the front of your property. If you can remove a panel of fencing for the tree trimmers, they will take less time to do the job and charge less.
Tree trimming cost examples
Below we have pictures of different trees with BEFORE and AFTER shots and the cost for the trim.
There are various sizes of trees and different trimming styles. Costs are an accurate estimate of what you would expect to pay for such a job.
Oak tree trimming
Estimated height: 45ft. tall
Botanical name: Quercus
Trim type: Canopy reduction
Before the canopy reduction trim took place, you can see the tree was in pretty bad shape. When you get crown die-back on a tree of this size, it a canary in the coal mine for the trees health. The best thing for it is a good prune.
The cost of such a prune would be between $690 and $1,150 depending on the city you live in and the company you employ.
You can see the impact the trim has had on the trees health just a couple of months later. Lots of new growth and a much healthier looking specimen.
Estimated height: 24ft. tall
Botanical name: Llex opaca
Trim type: Dead wood removal
Dead-wood on a tree is not only unsightly, but is also detrimental to the trees health. Removing dead-wood will increase curb appeal of your home and also give your trees health a good boost.
The cost of dead-wood removal on the below example would be $250 to $410. This is a fairly small tree and the deadwood seems to be confined to a fairly small space in the lower centre part of the tree. This will take the right tree trimming company about 1 – 2 hours to complete.
American Beech tree
Estimated height: 36ft. tall
Botanical name: Fagus Granfolia
Trim type: Canopy lift
It’s easy to see the amazing transformation a tree trim can have on the whole aesthetic appeal of this home. A canopy lift involves the removal of the lower branches of a tree essentially lifting the trees canopy off the ground.
The below canopy lift trim would cost you $410 – $590 depending on the city you live in and the time of year you get the job done.
Estimated height: 21ft. tall
Botanical name: Fraxinus
Trim type: Canopy thinning
The below Ash tree was a mess with a really thick canopy with crossing branches and dead-wood. You can see the light penetration to the lawn before and after the trim.
Not only will the grass grow better, but allow air flow and light in the tree’s canopy is greatly improved which will prevent a lot of fungal diseases Ash trees can develop when left unattended.
The cost to thin the below Ash tree would be between $410 and $670 depending on the city you live.
The access to the tree is good it’s a fairly small tree.
Estimated height: 25ft. tall
Botanical name: Fraxinus
Trim type: Canopy lift
Look at the amount of light that can get through to that front window after this prune. Canopy lifts are very straight forward and involve the removal of a few of the lower branches.
This trim would cost a total of $410. As there is a delicate garden below the tree, special care would need to be taken to make sure there is no damage done. This would add to time and cost which is factored into the above price.
Most of this work could be done from the ground with a pole saw by your local tree cutting services.
Alder tree trimming
Estimated height: 55ft. tall
Botanical name: Alnus
Trim type: Canopy lift
It’s amazing the transformation that can take place by pruning just a few lower limbs. The view of the lake has increased 3 fold. Although these are larger trees, we are only removing a few small branches from the lower part. There is good access and no obstacles.
To perform a canopy lift trim on the below 2 x trees would cost you $520 – $790.
For a single tree you would be looking at $390 – $480 to trim the lower branches.
Cost per hour to have trees trimmed
Tree pruning services do not actually charge by the hour. They might work out their prices that way, but they will give you a price based on a visual assessment of your tree job.
Pricing by the hour in this game is tricky. One company might charge 3 x more per hour than another company, but do the job 3 x faster because they have a 6 man crew instead of a 2 man crew.
To get an accurate estimate on the cost of tree trimmer, you really do need to ask a local tree service company for a price on your specific tree job.
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Cost calculator for tree trimming
What factors add to tree trimming cost?
As discussed briefly above there are a lot of factors that add to the cost of tree trimming. A simple way to look at it is, the longer it takes to trim or remove branches, load the up and clean up, the more it will cost you. So below we will list of things that will make the tasks more time consuming.
Access to the tree
The location of the tree on your property is important.
To trim a tree in the front yard of your house, is going to cost you less than the same tree at the rear of your property. If the workers need to drag all waste from the back of your house to the front, it will add to the overall job time so you will pay more.
Do what you can to give the best access possible to the tree you will end up saving yourself a lot of money. The closer the company can get their truck to the tree the less it will cost you for branches to be trimmed.
Time of year
The reason this is a factor is purely based on supply and demand. The warmer months is high season for tree trimming and tree removal cost, so expect to pay more. During the cooler months people are not in their gardens so there is less being done, but there are still the same amount of tree companies working.
So in order to win work they are always willing to drop their prices to make sure they win the job.
Check out the results from Google trends when you type in a term like tree removal or tree trimming. This will give you an idea of demand.
Obstacles around the tree
Having lots of pot plants or garden furniture around the base of the tree being trimmed, is going to add to the time it takes to trim the tree. If the tree surgeon needs to tip toe around a clutter in your garden then it’s going to take him twice as long to do the job.
Clearing everything you can from under and around the tree will ensure it will cost you less.
This one is pretty obvious, the bigger the tree is, the more it will cost to have it trimmed. Tree trimming cost goes up in scale depending on tree size.
Number of branches
This is going to be a double edged sward as it’s not just the number of branches, but also the size of the tree and branches being pruned. This particular factor is ties into all of the factors combined. In general, the greater the number of branches being pruned the more it is going to cost you.
The factor most do not think about is the type of tree being pruned. This is closely related to the form the tree takes, including natural branch distribution, sizes and how easy they are to remove.
A pine tree will generally have small branches that are easily removed. An
Oak tree on the other hand will have very large branches. Removing 3 branches from a pine will cost substantially less than removing the same number of branches from an Oak tree.
When is the best time to trim for tree health?
As a general rule of thumb, towards the end of winter is generally best. When you remove a branch, you leave a large wound that the tree then needs heal. This is a very slow process and a race against time for the tree. If it is done too late in the spring or summer, there is not enough time for the tree to begin the healing process before winter sets in.
This can allow pests, water and rot to set in.
If a tree were to leave a wound open for too long, it would allow bugs to borrow in, water to seep into structural timber and the possibility of rot. The tree really does need to heal the wound as soon as possible.
So in my opinion, late winter is the best time to have your trees trimmed.
Best priced tree trimming services near me
Finding the best priced tree trimming service near me is not always as easy as knowing who is cheap. It’s all about timing.
As explained above, companies are forever adjusting their prices depending on how much work they have on. If they are busy, they will charge more. Getting them in a slow period for their business will catch them when they are a little more desperate for work.
So how do you find the ones that are charging cheaper price now?
You can use GoTreeQuotes FREE quote request service.
We keep track of local companies’ prices in real time by asking every customer who receives a tree trimming quote, who was the cheapest service?
We keep a running compilation of whose hot and who’s not in your local area.
When you fill in our 2 minute form, we ask the 3 local companies voted best priced to give you a free estimate on your trimming job.
Just fill in the 2 minute form here, let us know a little more about your trimming job and we forward your tree job details onto those 3 closest and best priced companies for pricing.
Cost to have a palm tree trimming
The cost to trim a palm tree varies depending on height, palm type and number of trees being pruned.
For a group of 10 palm trees of the same size needing trimming you would expect to pay between $350 and $650. It will depend on how tall they are and how good the access is for the tree trimming service.
DIY tree trimming vs. professionals
If you are looking to save some money you can opt to do the work yourself. Be for I go into details on how you would do this and the pros and cons, it is worth pointing out that tree trimming from heights is very dangerous.
If the branch you want to trim is greater than 10-15 ft. off the ground I suggest you call in a professional.
If you do not understand the forces involved in tree pruning and you decide to do so from a ladder, you can easily end up falling and injuring yourself.
- You will be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the number of trees that need to be pruned.
- You will have a greater understanding of your own trees when done.
- Working in your own garden is very relaxing and is linked to reduction of stress levels.
- Tree trimming is very dangerous and you risk injury.
- If you font have the tools you will need to hire or buy them.
- If you have never done this before you will need to read some more about how to properly execute the job.
- You will need to dispose of the waste yourself often at a cost.
- The job is time consuming and labor intensive.
- You could injure or kill your tree by over-trimming it or making incorrect cuts in the wrong spot.
Why trim trees?
You motive for trimming a tree might vary depending on the tree and your situation, but below are a few common reasons why we trim trees.
- Aesthetics – The curb appeal of your home can be greatly enhanced with well-maintained trees. Having nicely shaped trees can add up to 6% to a homes’ value.
- Sunlight penetration – Depending on the tree and its location you might want to let some more light through braches or below the canopy. This can assist in better lawn growth or simply letting more ling into a room in your house.
- Health of tree – If you give a tree a trim every 3 or 4 years, you give it a new lease on life and allow it to grow and bloom to its full potential.
Tree trimming tips
Below are some general tips to consider when trimming trees.
- Trim when dormant – By trimming a tree towards the end of winter you will give the tree the best chance to heal itself. During summer and spring fungus and borer bugs are prevalent and will attack once you make an opening in the tree. By trimming when the tree in winter you give the tree a precious few months to begin to heal before the bugs come out.
- Never top a tree – Topping refers to removing the crown or very top branches of a tree. This can be fatal for a tree and totally screw with its future growth. All trees grow from the top out. If you remove the top branches it will never be the same.
- Remove dead branches – Dead branches will eventually shed on their own but it is always a great idea to remove them when pruning. This stops water and bugs getting into the trees heart wood and causing issues.
- Remove crowing braches – Branches that cross each other will rub in the wind and eventually strip away the trees protective bark. This will allow fungus and bugs to get in and could kill the tree.
- Never remove more than 30% per annum – If you remove too many branches it can be too much of a shock to the trees system which it may not properly recover from. It can also cause it to shoot out suckers from the drunk leading to a very ugly situation. Always aim for about 15% per year, but never more than 30%.
Shrub trimming prices
A shrub generally refers to anything plant smaller than 10 feet that has multiple shoots rather than 1 main trunk. These can be quite easily trimmed yourself.
If you were after a professional service to trim these trees, it is not going to cost you much. Anywhere between $50 and $150 should cover it.
Price to dead-wood a tree
The removal of dead limbs is critical to maintaining healthy trees on your property, as well as to public safety. Even a small branch falling from a tree can gather quite a bit of speed and have devastating results.
It is always worth keeping an eye on your tree and if dead branches are spotted, call a local tree trimming company to give you a cost estimate to remove those dead branches.
If your tree has totally died, it might be a good idea to remove it. Dead trees should be removed as they are a hazard.
Trimming Vs. Pruning
Tree trimming and pruning are two is very different things even though both practices involve the removal of tree branches. Below we break down the main differences so you can know what you might need.
This is the management of a tree in an urban environment. Either shaping the tee for aesthetics or to trim for power line and building clearance. Other tree trimming techniques include canopy lift, tree thinning and weight reduction.
Pruning is different to trimming as it focuses on the health and vigour of a tree. If your main motivation is to prepare a fruit tree for the season ahead, then this is preferred to as pruning. This also includes some formative pruning for tree health such as training a tree to a single main leader or the removal of deadwood or crossing branches, both of which can have detrimental effects on the trees long term health.
Selecting a Tree Trimming Services
There is some due diligence involved when selecting a tree service to carry out your tree trimming work. There are a lot of fly by night companies who are just in it for a quick buck. They are dangerous and will leave you wishing you had gone with someone else.
Credentials: Make sure you ask them for their arborist certificate. They need to be a level 3 arborist or higher to be qualified to trim trees at heights.
Licencing: Most counties and cities require tree trimming services to carry a licence for tree trimming. This means they have their arborist certificate and insurance and can work safely within the city.
Verify insurance: When your potential tree trimming service hands over their public liability insurance, make sure you phone the insurer to make sure they are up to date in their payments.
Ask for a written quotation: Make sure they write down exactly how many branches they will be removing and how much it costs. This way there is no confusion on exactly what you are paying for.
What to avoid
The BBB suggests there are some red flags when it comes to hiring tree trimming services.
1. Tree services who go door to door to see if you need tree trimming done.
2. They insist the job needs to be done now.
3. They only accept cash.
It will depend on the objective of trimming your tree. If you just need to trim a dead branch or two, or remove a branch growing into your roof or power lines, then any time of year will do just fine. If the purpose is to give it a good prune by 20-30% of foliage, then waiting until winter is key. This is because trees are dormant and react better during a winter prune than in the height of summer when the tree is stressed.
If you are limiting the trim to dead or diseased branches and maybe the odd healthy branch, then it should be ok. If you are looking to trim 10 – 30% of the trees canopy, I would leave it until winter next year. Trimming large amounts of foliage can be a shock to the trees system, so it is best to do these types of trims when the tree is dormant.
Fruit trees can still be trimmed in very early spring, but as a general rule of thumb, later winter is always better for the trees health and fruit production.
Although trimming is very beneficial for a trees health, if you do not know what you are doing you can do more damage than good. Tree trimming work should be left to the experts as they know how much to trim, what parts of the tree to trim and the correct techniques to have a positive effect on the tree. There are cases where trees that have been pruned in a poor manner and by too much and at the wrong time of year have died, but it is rare.
If your tree is hanging over your neighbour’s yard they are well within their rights to trim your tree, just as long as they are not breaking any tree audience laws in the process. It’s the norm for them to ask your permission first before pruning, but it is not against the law as it is encroaching on their property.
Hedge trimming is priced a little different to regular tree trimming. The factors to consider are the height of the hedge, the length and the state of growth. The following prices are for hedges that are regularly pruning and no more than 3 – 4 inches of growth are needed to be removed. Small hedge 3 – 6 ft. (height) will cost $100 for the first meter (length) and $50 for every additional meter. Medium hedges 6 – 9 ft. (height) will cost $140 for the first meter (length) and $70 for every additional meter. Large hedges 9 – 12 ft. (height) will cost $210 for the first meter (length) and $100 for every additional meter.
It is extremely difficult to price a tree pruning job over the phone or by pictures. The arborist will need to come out to your property and inspect the job. The price of tree pruning is not just dependent on the tree itself, but the location, access, obstacles and a myriad of other factors.
No, a tree pruning service is able to work without you there just as long as they have access to the tree. They will not need power cables or anything to work. You can have the job done and arrange to pay them after you have come home and inspected the job.
Not really. You can go to court, but you are just best doing it yourself. You have the right to trim anything overhanging your yard. If you are not on good terms with your neighbor, then you will not be able to enter their yard to do the job. Everything will need to be done from your side of the fence.
Technically they are. If you trim THEIR tree overhanging YOUR yard, you have the right to throw the waste into their yard for disposal. I personally would not recommend it if you want any kind of relationship with your neighbor.
Yes. You can save an average of 20% off the price of tree trimming just by having the job done in winter. Because there is a slump in work for arborists over the winter, they need to lower their prices to be more competitive. In winter you find yourself on the right side of the supply and demand paradigm.
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 dedicating to providing users with the most accurate up to date information on everything trees.
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