Tree trimming (or pruning) is a routine maintenance task for many types of trees, and may further be necessary for any type of tree due to safety concerns or to enhance the appearance and accessibility of your property.
You will find the cost to trim an average tree will vary with tree size and type, its proximity to buildings and/or power lines, the accessibility of its location, the amount of time passed without trimming, general tree health, and labor rate.
In the following tables the Labor Cost figure is what the able DIY person should expect to save by performing the complete task.
Trim five healthy trees on a residential lot: each with ten years growth since last trim; 3 oak trees (50 feet tall) and two maple trees (35 feet tall); no power-line or building issues.
|Item||Unit Cost||Quantity||Line Cost|
|Wood chipper: 40 HP trailer mounted; chip all cut material and spread onsite (requires gasoline and proper vehicle for transport to and around site).||$244||per day||3||$733|
|Chainsaw: 18” gasoline powered, including gas and oil.||$68||per day||3||$205|
|Hand tools: shears, axe, and one safety harness system with ropes.||$65||per day||3||$195|
|Equipment and Material Cost||$377||per day||3||$1,133|
|+ Labor Cost (2 persons)||$38||per hour||48||$1,824|
|Total Cost||$591||per tree||5||$2,957|
Other considerations and costs
- Taxes and permit fees are not included.
- Electric utility companies often perform tree trimming around their overhead lines at no cost to the homeowner, check with them if this is your case.
- When searching for a service provider, be sure to request a detailed written offer (usually fixed-price) from several providers that includes proof of:
- business license
- professional arborist license (not typical but is nice)
- liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance
- customer references
- a time commitment to complete the work tied to payments
- Additional information and proof should also be available regarding:
- certification by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
- registry as Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Accredited Business
- use of shoe-spikes to climb trees (should NOT be the case)
- removal of living material from the tree-top (should NOT be the case)
- disposal of all limbs, branches, and cut material; and full clean up the area
- a background check on the persons who will be on your property
- provision of a signed contract that details the work to be done including an estimate of time on the job site and the fixed-price to deliver on terms
- a valid contractors bond on work that exceeds $500
- This activity is not recommended for DIY as it is intrinsically dangerous working at heights with a chainsaw in a tied-off safety harness, and furthermore requires arborist knowledge of how to correctly trim the tree.
- Craftsman Estimator Costbook, complete series year 2015.
- Latest prices found on Home Depot and other vendor Web sites.
- Literature review of DIY and arborist Web sites.