Average tree trimming costs range from as low as $75 for standard limbing (aka, cutting branches off), all the way up to $1,000 or more. On Thumbtack, the national average cost of tree trimming is $730 and the average cost of tree removal is $985. Trimming and removal are two different tree services with different price points.
What's in this Cost Guide?
- How much does tree trimming cost?
- How much does tree removal cost?
- What factors affect the price of all tree services?
- Extra services (and how much they cost)
- What to do with leftover stumps
- Tree trimming vs. tree pruning
- Tree trimmer, arborist – what's the difference?
- Not all trees are created equal
- How to save money on tree services
- Can't I just do it myself?
As with pretty much any project, the bigger the job (in this case, the tree), the higher the price:
Size of Tree
National Average Tree Trimming Cost
Shorter than 30 feet
$75 to $450
Between 30 and 60 feet
$150 to $875
Taller than 60 feet
$200 to $1,000
Keep in mind those are just ballpark costs. A variety of other factors affect the final estimate you get from your arborist. Things like whether the tree is healthy or needs treatment, nearby hazards to avoid such as buildings, power lines, etc. Not the mention the logistics of hauling all that debris away – all of these variables affect a homeowner's bottom line. A 20-foot tall tree with a pest problem right next to your neighbor's garage requires more effort (and money) to prune than a healthy 20-foot tree in the middle of an open field.
The national average cost of tree removal on Thumbtack is $985. It's typically the more expensive tree service, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the tree and how you'll dispose of it.
Dead, damaged or diseased trees need to be "disassembled." This involves removing branches and limbs one by one, which drives up costs. Like tree trimming, tree removal services vary based on the size, location and health of the tree.
- Size: Extra large trees like an older pine, oak or laurel should be evaluated by a professional arborist before you prune them. Certain species are protected (also known as “heritage trees”), and you could incur fines for cutting them down (or even trimming them).
- Scope: The number of trees being trimmed on the property also affects the final estimate. Your tree trimmer may offer you a better deal to prune them all at once.
- Health: An unstable tree is at higher risk of falling during tree work and may require cabling as a safety precaution. Moisture, diseases, fungi and other pests also lead to unhealthy trees that require professional pruning.
- Location: A tree that's hard to reach or close to a structure presents maintenance challenges. Tree trimmers can't just let the branches fall to the ground, they have to use special equipment to lower them manually. Homeowners should expect to pay more for the extra labor and time.
- Clean up: Assuming you want the debris hauled away or turned into something useable when the job is done (mulch, firewood, etc), you'll pay more for services like log splitting, wood chipping or hauling it all away. See below for a more detailed price breakdown.
- Urgency: Unfortunately, if one of your trees is damaged in a storm and you need immediate help, you'll have to pay an extra fee for emergency tree services; sometimes as high as $250/hour.
- Log splitting. Many tree trimming companies have log splitting machines that can cut debris into usable firewood. This costs about $50 to $100 per tree.
- Wood chipping. Did you know that mulch suppresses weeds and keeps moisture in your garden? Don't let those trimmings go to waste. Pay an extra $50 to $100 to have the tree trimmer bring a wood chipper and make your mulch.
Some companies offer stump grinding (aka removal) services ranging from $50 to $150 per stump, but it can go much higher for big trees.
So why do it? If it's going to cost extra, couldn't you just leave the stump and save some money? Not exactly. Eventual decay may bring pests and fungi to surrounding trees, costing you more money in the long run. Not to mention, a stump still absorbs water after it's been cut down – water that's meant for other trees.
Pruning and trimming aren't the same thing. They're actually two different services with two different price points.
Trimming is basically just tidying up your tree. Cutting back the outermost branches into a more desirable shape when the tree is overgrown. Tree pruning is focused on a tree's future health. It prevents pests and disease, and promotes strong growth. Whereas trimming can be done anytime, pruning should be done at certain times of the year, according to the tree species. These are specifics your arborist will know.
There are many landscaping companies that specialize in basic tree trimming services. But a certified arborist is an expert at maintaining long-term tree health. Arborists have a degree and years of education in tree biology. They focus on conservation, selectively pruning trees to promote healthy growth.
Many towns and cities have a “heritage tree” preservation ordinance that dictates what you can and can't do with certain trees (even trees on private property). The rules are usually determined by the height, circumference and species of tree. In some parts of California, for example, a heritage tree is defined as any tree with a trunk circumference of 55 inches or more, or is at least 35 feet tall. Other municipalities define a heritage tree as any cedar, bay, redwood, buckeye, or oak tree with a trunk diameter of 10 inches or more when measured at a point 4 feet above ground level.
This is all very technical information to say that removing or even trimming a heritage tree requires a permit. Cutting the tree without approval can incur a fine of $20,000 to $60,000. And even if you do receive a permit, you may be required to replace the tree you remove.
- If you have a tree limb or branch hanging over a power-line, call your utility company. They should remove the branch at no cost to you.
- If you have several trees that need trimming, it's generally more cost-efficient to have all of them trimmed at once.
- Get on a maintenance schedule. Annual tree trimming can prevent diseases and overgrowth that requires more expensive tree services later on.
- Keep the base of your tree debris free. Decaying leaves and other organic material can cause the soil to be too damp, which translates to major issues for tree stability.
Hiring a professional is by far the safest way to go. But if you do decide to trim your own trees, the USDA provides the following size guide to help you determine if it's safe or not to cut the branches:
- Branches smaller than 2 inches (or 5 centimeters) in diameter: Proceed.
- Branches between 2 and 4 inches (or 5 and 10 centimeters) in diameter: Think it over.
- Branches larger than 4 inches (or 10 centimeters): Contact an arborist.