How Much Does Tree Trimming Cost?
The national average cost for tree trimming is $460, with a typical range of $200 to $760. For trees under 30 feet, costs can start as low as $75, topping out around $400. But the bigger the tree, the bigger the bill: Trees over 60 feet tall can run up to $1,500 for a trim.
- Typical Range: $75 to $1,500
- National Average: $460
Beautiful, healthy trees sometimes need a little maintenance. Because of the size of mature trees, it’s often advisable to pay a professional to do the job for you. Knowing what’s involved can prepare you for tree trimming cost sticker shock. Tree trimming costs can range widely from $75 to $1,500.The national average is $460, but the price depends on the tree’s size, overall health, type, and location. The time of year can also impact the price; scheduling during peak season sometimes means you’ll pay more. An emergency situation (such as storm damage) will always result in paying a premium for tree trimming.
Other factors that can affect tree trimming cost include accessibility: If the crew is unable to easily drive to the tree and use a platform lift or bucket, the price is likely to be higher, especially if the pro has to climb the tree. If other structures are present (whether a house, a fence, or something else), access to the tree may be difficult, which can drive up the cost. If the tree is unhealthy, it may require extra services, such as soil testing, root pruning, or spraying for pests. Extra services also add to the bill.
On the other hand, if you have multiple trees that require trimming, you may get a price break.
Tree Trimming vs. Tree Pruning
Trimming is most often done for aesthetic reasons—to shape a tree, for example, and make it more attractive. It is used on healthy trees free of pests and disease.
Pruning, on the other hand, involves the calculated removal of select, unnecessary branches (sometimes unhealthy or dead branches) and even roots to promote growth and keep the tree in good health. Pruning eliminates unwanted growth and “opens up” a tree, allowing sunlight and air to reach interior branches. If a tree is encroaching on a structure or utility lines, it may need pruning to redirect it.
Factors in Calculating Tree Trimming Cost
Many factors go into determining the cost of trimming a tree. While the national average is about $460, prices can vary. Tree size is probably the most significant aspect in determining price, although its type, health, and location also figure into the equation. Additional services, such as fertilization, cleanup, tree and/or tree stump removal, will add to the cost.
Additionally, access to the tree can impact the cost of trimming: If a crew can’t get its bucket truck or lift platform close to the tree, manually climbing the tree will be more expensive—as much as 25 to 50 percent more. Trimming roots, fertilizing, or treating an unhealthy tree also adds to the cost. An unhealthy tree can be unstable, requiring additional safety precautions to be taken during trimming. Working around obstacles, such as a fence, a building, or other plantings, can also complicate the process.
A thorough inspection by an arborist or other tree professional provides an assessment of your tree’s health and an opinion about whether it requires any additional treatments. Often, it includes an evaluation of the tree’s structure, bark, branches, and even the soil around it. An inspection can provide valuable information about whether the tree has any infections, infestations, or structural damage, and what its watering and soil requirements are. Typical costs for this service range from $30 to $150.
Tree Size and Type
It’s easy to understand how size affects the price of tree trimming; reaching up 30 feet or 60 feet requires specialized equipment and poses greater risk. The complexity of the job reflects on the price. A tree 30 feet or under typically costs $100 to $400 to trim, and a tree between 30 and 60 feet can run $175 to $600. Trees taller than 60 feet can easily cost $1,800 or more.
Perhaps less obvious is the relationship between the type of tree and the cost of trimming. Multi-trunk trees like a crepe myrtle add to the complexity of trimming. Hardwoods like maple are tougher to trim.
Time of Year
Tree trimming cost can also fluctuate at different times of the year because professionals may charge less during off-season months when they aren’t as busy.
For the majority of trees, trimming is best done during late winter while they’re dormant, or not actively growing. It’s also an easier time to do the job because without leaves on their branches, it’s easier to see their structure. By trimming trees before they start to leaf out and produce buds, you are forcing them to divert more energy into new growth.
Spring-flowering trees like magnolias and redbuds shouldn’t be trimmed until after they’ve bloomed.
Number of Trees
While most professionals charge by the tree, if you have multiple trees, many services will give you a price break since they’re already on the property, reducing the amount of travel time and “mobilization” per job. For some professionals, the more trees they trim, the bigger the discount.
Health of the Tree
If a tree is damaged, diseased, or otherwise unhealthy, it creates a potentially more dangerous situation for the professional trimming it. There is also likely to be more to remove; in some instances, the entire tree needs to come down. The more work that’s involved, the higher the price will be.
If it’s difficult to access a tree, the cost to trim it could increase by as much as 25 to 50 percent. If large limbs must be lowered to the ground by a rope in order not to damage a house, other structures, or other plantings, the additional time and effort required will be reflected in the bill. Similarly, if the professional’s bucket truck or platform lift can’t access the tree, additional labor—and risk—to climb the tree will be necessary, and thus, the cost goes up.
Regional variances may have more to do with the distance traveled to your property or whether you live in an urban or more rural area. Travel to remote areas typically comes with a higher price tag. It’s also common to pay more for tree trimming in upscale urban neighborhoods.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Trimming a tree is just the start of the work. At a bare minimum, you’ll need to clean up the area afterward. If some of the removed branches are of significant diameter or length, you’ll probably need to cut them up before hauling them off. If the professional does any of this work, it will be reflected in the bill.
If your tree isn’t healthy, you may opt for a variety of additional treatments, such as soil remediation, fertilization, or pest control. If the tree is so damaged or unhealthy that it needs to come down, you may want to have the stump removed as well.
Repairing landscaping damaged during the tree trimming process adds to the total cost as well.
There will be more to clean up from a bigger tree than a smaller one, but either way, you may not want or be able to do this task on your own. If you want the professionals to clean up the debris and haul it away, expect to pay an additional $25 to $100.
Tree Branch Cutting
Tree branch cutting is another name for trimming or pruning. The cost depends on the height of the tree and the diameter of the branches, but it will in general cost an average of $200 to $800. Trimming branches on shorter trees that don’t require the equipment necessary to reach high branches generally costs less than trimming taller trees that may require a bucket truck.
Tree pruning typically costs the same as tree trimming. The average is usually somewhere between $400 and $800. If you need an arborist, the cost will go up. Pruning does more than just make a tree look better; it promotes health and new growth by removing branches that may be diseased, broken, weak, or that wrap around other branches.
Pests such as ants, termites, other insects, and woodpeckers can damage trees. Your tree can also succumb to rot or fungus. To heal and save a tree, you may have to call a pest control specialist. But even before you do that, you will want to remove diseased limbs. Professionals often charge more when trimming a pest-infested tree because it can be unstable, and therefore more dangerous. It can add anywhere from $50 to $500 to the total charges—more if complete tree removal is needed.
Do I Need Tree Trimming? When to Trim a Tree
In general, a healthy mature tree should be trimmed every 3 to 5 years to maintain its well-being. Young trees need trimming every 2 to 3 years. You can trim trees annually for aesthetic reasons. Exceptions to the rule include fruit trees, which should be trimmed annually, and evergreens, which very rarely need trimming.
Most trees should be trimmed in late fall or early winter when they are dormant and under less stress, although some flowering trees are best left until after their spring bloom. However, if your tree is damaged by a storm or if it is diseased, you’ll need to trim it immediately. Dead branches should always be removed right away.
If your tree has a fungus, rot, or other disease, trimming will help prevent the issue from spreading to the healthy portions of the tree. Opening up a tree’s interior to sunlight and airflow will also help eradicate pest problems and, in fruit trees, encourage production.
Additionally, if a tree is encroaching on your house or other structure, utility lines, fences, or even other trees, it may be time to trim.
Maintenance and Aesthetics
Most tree trimming is done to improve the looks of the tree—to shape it or to remove overgrowth. Sometimes, lower branches are trimmed to enable easier mowing or other activities in the yard. Annual maintenance in the way of tree trimming can help prevent disease, overgrowth, and other issues.
Health and Safety Risks
Trees damaged by storms or ravaged by disease or pests can pose a safety concern. Trees encroaching on power lines also pose a risk. Any broken or damaged limbs should be trimmed before they cause a serious problem by falling onto a house, a fence, a car, or worse. But even a limb that has grown too close to a house or other structure (or droops onto the roof) can pose a safety concern and should come down.
For optimal long-term health, a tree should be trimmed regularly. Trees can sustain damage from hail, high winds, drought, and other severe weather. Proper pruning and trimming promote health by removing damaged and diseased branches as well as sprouts and overgrowth. Excessive trimming, however, can further damage a tree’s health and may result in the need for tree removal.
Tree Trimming Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Because tree trimming is expensive, some homeowners consider doing it themselves to save money. If it’s a young tree with small branches that can easily be trimmed while standing on the ground, DIY is a viable option. But larger trees with bigger branches that are higher off the ground pose a different challenge and may be best left to the pros. Trees taller than 15 feet should be trimmed by a professional.
Not only do professionals have the proper tools to access the tree and trim it safely, but they also have the experience to drop cut limbs in safe areas. The biggest risk of injury from tree trimming comes from branches falling in unexpected directions.
Professionals come prepared with the proper safety equipment as well as liability insurance to protect themselves and the homeowner from any accidents. DIYers will incur expenses in buying or renting equipment such as pruners or loppers ($30 to $50), ladder ($150 to $500), chain saw ($400 to $600), pole saw rental ($55 per day), hand saw ($16 to $25), safety equipment such as goggles and a hard hat, and more. The costs can quickly mount up.
Furthermore, DIYers don’t always know the proper place to trim branches. Cutting branches too short or leaving them too long can damage your tree. Sealing the cuts with paint or tar can negatively impact the health of your tree. In the long run, addressing health issues caused by poor tree trimming can be more costly than paying a professional to trim the tree in the first place.
How to Save Money on Tree Trimming Cost
Choosing to use a professional tree trimmer doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. There are ways to save money.
- If your tree is infringing on a power line, call the power company; they often trim trees near power lines for free because it’s a safety issue.
- Routine maintenance helps avert many problems later: Water, mulch, and regular trimming ensure a healthy tree.
- Clean up the debris yourself. Save or sell some of it for firewood.
- Get multiple quotes so you know you’re getting the best possible price.
- Ask about group discounts, either for multiple trees in one yard or trees on multiple properties in the same neighborhood.
- Schedule tree trimming for the off-season. This season will vary depending on your location, but prices will generally be higher in the spring, summer, and early fall.
- Don’t attempt to do a large trimming job or full tree removal by yourself. You may spend more if you end up damaging your property or hurting yourself.
Questions to Ask About Tree Trimming Cost
If you’ve decided to hire a professional to trim your tree, get quotes from at least three professional companies. When you call, be prepared with questions to help you decide which is the right professional for you.
- Can you provide a copy of your insurance coverage and a typical contract? Protect yourself by getting everything in writing. Documentation can save you from trouble later.
- What equipment will you be using? You probably don’t want a heavy track loader leaving ruts in your lawn or other heavy equipment so large it smashes down shrubs and crushes flower beds. A good follow-up question could inquire how they repair any damage done to your lawn or home by their equipment.
- How long have you been doing this kind of work? An experienced tree trimmer can be much more experienced than a novice, both in quality of work and safety.
- How long will the job take to complete?
- Do they have any references?
- Will you clean up, and is that an extra charge or included with the price?
- Can I do any part of the work myself?
- Is there any type of weather that you won’t be able to work in?
- How often do you recommend I trim the type of trees I have?
Do your own due diligence before you hire a professional to trim your tree so you are primed with knowledge about the process and are prepared to ask pertinent questions during the interview process.
Q. How much does it cost to trim a tree?
The typical range for trimming a tree is $75 to $1,500. It all depends on how big the tree is, what type of tree it is (hardwood and multi-trunk trees cost more), if it’s healthy, how accessible it is, and your general location, with urban areas usually costing more than rural areas. Large trees (60 feet or higher) can easily cost $1,800 or more. You may have to pay 30 to 40 percent more if a professional has to climb a tall tree because a bucket truck can’t be used.
Q. How long does it take to trim a tree?
It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day to trim a tree. It all depends on many of the same factors as the cost: How tall is the tree? How much trimming is needed? How accessible is the tree? Can the professional use a bucket truck, or will the tree need to be accessed by climbing? What kind of tree is it? Is the tree healthy? It takes longer—and is more dangerous—to trim a diseased or damaged tree.
Q. Which month is the best time to trim trees?
In most agricultural zones, the optimal time to trim trees is late fall through winter: i.e., November through March. The reason is that it’s best to trim trees while they are dormant—not actively growing—to reduce stress on them and to better see their structure while their leaves are off.