How to negotiate tree removal (and save money).


By Nina Kulenkampff

My husband and I recently bought our forever home. It's a 100-year-old farmhouse on a 0.7-acre plot, and it came with a lot of trees. We quickly identified that the entire fence line along one side was populated with Spider Gum trees. They had to go, and they did — but going through the tree removal process was quite a learning curve. 

The following tips will teach you how to negotiate the best deal, navigate the process with ease and avoid some of the mistakes we made.

1. Speak to several tree removal services and get estimates.

You can get an idea of how much it will cost to remove a tree by researching online, but it's better to reach out to a professional near you to get personalized estimates.

There are many factors that impact the cost of tree removal, and a professional will likely consider the following:

  • Tree size 
  • Tree species
  • Number of trees
  • Location
  • Accessibility (ex: is the tree near a power line?)
  • Stump and root removal 
  • Material, equipment and labor costs

2. Use estimates as negotiating power.

Don't immediately accept the first offer you receive from a professional. Get estimates from multiple arborists and professional tree removal companies. Then, compare the prices and the services the different professionals or companies offer. You should also compare their reputations and certifications.

If you narrow your options down to one, but you don't think their price is fair, you can use the other quotes you received as bargaining power. Ask if the pro will lower their price to be more competitive with other local professionals who offer similar high-quality services for a lower price. 

3. Ask about discounts and deals.

Tree trimming and removal is a competitive industry in the United States. Chances are businesses or professionals will offer deals or discounts to draw in new or existing clients.

Ask if they have upcoming sales, promotions or discounts at certain times of the year.

4. Ask if you can save by removing multiple trees at once.

Use your negotiating prowess to see whether the companies will offer you a lower overall price to cut down multiple trees.

Some companies might happily reduce their cost-per-tree rate somewhat to secure a bigger job. So instead of having a professional come to your house multiple times to remove a tree, it might make sense to remove them all at once — especially if you end up saving money in the long run.

5. See if you can DIY some tree removal tasks. 

You can save money on the tree removal process if you are willing and able to take on some DIY tasks. Let the professionals cut the tree down, but once that's done, consider these creative ways to take care of the trunks, branches, leaves and stumps: 

Two big factors to remember when taking on these DIY projects are your safety and making sure you're saving money. In other words, don't pick up a chainsaw if you don't know how to use it. And run the numbers to be sure you're saving money and not spending more than you would have paid the tree removal service to do it.

6. Ask about different stump removal methods.

There are several ways a professional can remove your tree stump, and they might have different prices points:

  • Stump grinding
  • Burning
  • Chemical rotting
  • Manual removal

Ask your pro how much it will cost to apply each method when requesting quotes.

Mistakes to avoid when booking tree removal services.

Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when dealing with tree removal services. Many of the following mistakes come down to one thing: hiring the wrong person.

1. Not doing your homework.

Research which certifications and qualifications reputable tree removal companies should have in your city and state. They should be on top of everything, from having a lot of experience to having the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and other gear they may need. 

2. Ask about their insurance. Check their policy, then read it again.

I was assured by my very eager "professional" that the company he worked for had insurance. When I asked him about putting in a claim for the $300 outdoor lamp that broke when a branch fell on it, he apologetically explained to me that his insurance was only for "bigger" claims. So if a large tree had fallen on a house and caused the roof to cave in, it would've been covered.

Once you have proof that the professional or company is insured — and that insurance covers all types of damage — contact the insurance company to make sure that you and your property are adequately covered should something go wrong.

3. Get it in writing.

The professional I hired was incredibly eager to get the job started. He gave me a very good price, but as the project continued, he kept asking for more money because the job was bigger than he had anticipated.

When I initially asked him for an estimate, he spent 5 minutes looking at the trees before coming up with a figure. You don't want that. You want a professional to do the calculations thoroughly and put the amount you agreed upon in writing.

You'll also want to put in writing what should happen to the cut or fallen trees, and make sure it's included in the estimate. In my case, we agreed they would cut all 21 trees into firewood — but I only ended up with enough wood to last me one evening.

3. Be wary of scams.

Watch out for signs that someone may be scamming you into tree removal. After a natural disaster strikes a town, scammers may appear to offer their services and take advantage of you. Again, always confirm their qualifications and insurance, never pay upfront for services and compare prices.

Hire a tree removal professional near you.

If you're ready to take the plunge, don't make the same mistakes I did. Download the Thumbtack app, and contact tree removal services near you to get free estimates.


What’s the cheapest time of year for tree removal?

Arborists have their calendars (and hands) full in the spring and summer months. Unless it's urgent, postpone your tree removal until winter. It's the time of year when things slow down for tree removal professionals and companies, and they're more likely to give you a better price due to lower demand. 

How much do you tip for cutting down a tree?

It's not a common practice to tip professionals for cutting down trees. However, there's nothing stopping you from doing it if you can and are impressed by the service they provide. Also, remember that as much as people like getting tips, a positive review or five-star rating on their profile can have a lot more impact in helping them secure future work.

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