On this page:
- Estimating the Cost of Tree Trimming
- Do I Need a Pro to Trim Trees?
- What Influences the Cost of Trimming Trees?
- How Does Your Project Compare?
- Planning for Tree Service
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Trimming and pruning helps keep trees healthy and attractive, and prevents weak or damaged limbs from falling, causing damage and injury. The location, variety, condition, and size of trees influence the cost of trimming, so there are several details to consider when planning and budgeting for the project.
Estimating the Cost of Tree Trimming
No two trees are alike, so trimming and pruning is generally priced by the job, rather than with standardized fees. A tree service pro will need to have a firsthand look at the project in order to evaluate the tree and the site and provide an accurate price for the work. The time, equipment, and manpower involved will directly affect the bottom line, so the larger or more complex the job is, the more it will cost. Your job may be quoted as a whole, or itemized according to the equipment used and the number of workers and hours the job should take, but typical maintenance projects cost between $75 and $300. Larger or more challenging jobs could cost more than $1,000, with very complex work ranging from $1,200 to $5,000 for a single tree.
Who to Call
Minor trimming and basic pruning of shrubs or ornamental and fruit trees can often be completed by a landscape contractor or lawn care provider, since the work carries a low level of risk. Trimming large trees, however, should be done by a qualified arborist or tree service professional. This work is inherently dangerous and requires the use of large or specialized equipment. A tree expert also has the know-how to trim or prune a tree correctly for its type, location, and condition.
Do I Need a Pro to Trim Trees?
Trimming large trees and working from ladders is risky business, so unless you have the skills, tools, and safety equipment for the job, it’s usually best left in the hands of a pro. An experienced contractor can plan the safest approach for everyone involved, from workers and bystanders to the tree itself, and carries liability insurance to protect you in the event of problems or accidents.
Surprisingly, the actual cutting aspect of trimming trees is often the quickest part of the job. Setup, prep, and cleanup are often very time consuming, but a necessary part of the project. If your trees are situated near a street or power line, or if you don’t have a way to dispose of the debris from the job, a pro can simplify the whole project by handling permits, utility issues, and disposal.
Trimming small trees is usually pretty straightforward, but cutting limbs from very tall or dense trees, or those situated in a difficult to access location, can be complicated and dangerous. To ensure the safety of the trees, nearby buildings, and people on the ground, it’s usually necessary to control the fall of large limbs or branches. This can require climbing the tree or working from a bucket lift and employing ropes, cables, or even a crane. The features of each site and tree determine the difficulty of the job, and it’s often more involved than it appears from the ground.
What Influences the Price of Trimming Trees?
Scale and Scope of the Job
As with any repair or maintenance project, the overall amount of work needed will affect the price of the job. Naturally, using hand tools to prune a small tree that can be reached from the ground or a ladder will be a simpler and less expensive project than cutting large storm damaged limbs from a mature tree that is in close proximity to power lines. However, it can be more cost-effective to complete a large scale tree trimming job all at once than in several visits over time, since a pro only needs to set up and clean up once rather than stage and haul his crew and equipment multiple times.
Labor and Services
For the sake of both practicality and safety, most large tree trimming projects require a crew of at least two workers. Depending on the scale of the job, contractors may use large crews to handle the work efficiently, or to ensure safety on a difficult site or project. Labor rates for tree service pros typically range from $20 to $50 per hour, so your pro will base your price on the number of workers needed and the time spent on the job. Remember that time spent preparing the site and cleaning up debris all contribute to the bottom line, not just the time the saw is running.
How Does Your Project Compare?
Your location has influence on the cost of labor for tree service, since rates vary from place to place and are affected by the cost of living. More significant though, is the location of the trees that you need trimmed. When trimming or pruning is complicated by difficult access or proximity to streets, buildings, or utility lines, the job often requires special accommodations, from permits and traffic control to electrical line work and special machinery or equipment. If navigating the site complicates your project, the extra steps and effort involved could add several hundred dollars to the tab.
Trimming and pruning trees is often part of a seasonal maintenance routine, or done as needed to keep trees safe and healthy, but severe weather often causes damage that makes tree trimming an immediate need. In these emergency cases, providers may charge a premium to respond quickly to remove limbs that create a hazard. Depending on the situation and the demand in your area, an emergency service call could cost 50 to 150 percent more than a typical job scheduled in advance
The characteristics of the trees you need trimmed are an important factor in pricing the service. The level of skill and risk involved in cutting dead limbs from a large tree are much greater than that needed for pruning typical growth on a backyard fruit tree, and the equipment involved can be costly and complicated to run. If your job involves a number of trees, a substantial amount of cutting, or very tall trees, it will likely cost several time as much as basic pruning, which is often done for less than $100 on a single tree.
Level of Service
Unless you have the means to dispose of fallen tree branches and limbs on your own, you’ll probably want your tree service pro to clean up after trimming is done. Surprisingly, this part of the job often takes longer and rivals the cost of the cutting. Depending on the volume of material left behind and the method of disposal, clean up could take several hours to a full day for a small crew and add $200 to $1,000 to the cost of the job.
Planning for Tree Service
The cost of an emergency call for removing a tree limb that has fallen on a home can be several times more than that for a routine or scheduled call. To avoid higher service charges, as well as related home repair costs, have your trees evaluated and make a plan for trimming problematic limbs before they create a hazard. If necessary, service trees in order of priority so you can budget for the job and complete the work over time, rather than all at once.
Complex tree work should be handled by a trained arborist or experienced tree service contractor, while basic maintenance on small trees can be completed by a skilled landscape pro or handyman. Choose the right kind of pro for the nature of the work, but get several estimates and recommendations to compare so you can decide who is the best fit for the project and for your budget.
|$125 - $300||$320 - $850||$1,400 - $8,500|
The difficulty and cost of trimming trees can vary widely. The type, size, and condition of a tree, as well as the features of the site, will contribute to the cost of the job.
Annual Maintenance: $125 - $300
- • Services: Pruning a fruit tree less than 20 feet tall is a basic seasonal task that requires only hand tools and a ladder and produces a small amount of brush and waste.
- • Site: Accessing trees from an open, level site makes this a quick and safe project.
- • Labor: This job carries a low level of risk and does not require advanced skills. It’s a good project to hire out to a landscape or lawn care provider, which is usually more economical than hiring an arborist or specialist.
Tidying Up: $320 - $850
- • Services: Cleaning up weak or dead limbs from a tree over 20 feet tall raises the complexity of this job considerably. In addition to the use of chainsaws and other equipment, a mechanical lift and wood chipper can add several hundred dollars to a pro’s overhead on this job.
- • Site: A site that is easily accessible for a truck-mounted lift makes for an efficient project.
- • Labor: A crew of three or four workers can get the job done in about half a day, but you’ll need a tree service pro with the right skills, safety gear, and equipment.
Major Upkeep: $1,400 - $8,500
- • Services: Trimming hazardous limbs on a very large tree makes for a project with a high level of risk. In addition to typical equipment, a crane is used to remove large limbs overhanging a roof, and a truck is needed to transport logs off site.
- • Site: A complicated site further increases the difficulty and cost of the job. Close proximity to the street calls for traffic control, and the power company must turn off electrical service for the duration of the job.
- • Labor: A substantial job like this requires the skill of a professional arborist, which comes at a premium. It may take a quality crew of at least five several days to more than a week to complete a tough job like this.
Level of Difficulty
Basic pruning and trimming is a great weekend job for a do-it-yourselfer with a set of manual pruners and loppers, but tree care that requires power saws and working at heights should be handled by pros with the skills, tools, and safety equipment to do the job correctly. Additionally, an experienced pro can handle the job with regard to the overall health of your tree and make recommendations for ongoing care.
Find a Tree Trimming Pro
If you’re ready to find a pro to trim or prune your trees, connect with one or more tree trimming professionals who can help you plan and execute your job from start to finish. Working with seasoned pros gives you peace of mind and assurance the job is done right.