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Since most of us don’t get tree work done more often than once or twice a year, it can be difficult to predict the cost. Even after getting an estimate from a tree service, understanding the costs that go into trimming or removing a tree can be challenging.

How is Tree Work Priced?

Tree trimming prices are usually based on man hours for the work requested and amount of debris to be hauled away. Factors such as location, timing, equipment needed, and safety requirements can also increase the price of tree work. If additional work is added the day of the job, this may not be included in the original estimate.

What to Look for in Tree Work Price Estimates

Whether it is called a bid, work proposal, or estimate, reputable tree trimming companies will always submit job pricing in writing for customer approval. In addition to pricing, this document should contain the basic information about the company, including the legal name, address, and contact information. There will also be certain legal language, terms and conditions, that both the tree company and customer agree to follow. Sometimes these terms are printed on the bid, and sometimes they are online and simply referenced. Always be sure to ask to see the terms and conditions before agreeing to an estimate.

The “Big 3” Considerations When Hiring a Tree Service

  • Reviews/Reputation

    • What can you find out about a tree trimming company online?
      • Google, Yelp, Facebook, Nextdoor, and similar sites can not only provide a star rating or score, but feature reviews and feedback from actual customers.
    • Is it easy to find contact information for a tree service?
      • Are there multiple contact options? (Phone, email, text, live chat)
    • When reading reviews, pay attention to how the business responds to both good and bad feedback.
      • Do they try to resolve customer concerns or just ignore criticism?
  • Insurance

    • Tree trimming and removal can be tricky; reputable tree services will always have insurance, usually several types, to cover any unforeseen occurrences.
      • Commercial General Liability
        • Provides basic coverage for when the company is at fault for damage or injury
      • Vehicle
        • Covers damages related to motor vehicles and their operation
      • Personnel
        • Covers the tree service’s workers
      • Umbrella Coverage
        • Overlaps with other types of insurance to provide greater protection
    • In many states, there are no requirements to carry specific insurance.
      • Ask a prospective tree service about insurance to make sure you are protected if something happens while they are on your property.
  • Credentials

    • Reputable tree services will employ ISA Certified Arborists
      • The International Society of Arboriculture is the premier arborist training and certification organization in the world.
    • Most states do not offer a license in arboriculture.
      • With few exceptions, a “licensed arborist” is not a real credential
    • Contact your local ISA chapter or agricultural extension service to see if there are additional credentials specific to your area
      • In Texas, for example, ISA Certified Arborists can obtain the Texas Oak WIlt Qualification, reflecting additional training in management of the oak wilt disease
    • Experience and credentials go hand-in-hand
      • Be wary of professionals saying that they have experience and don’t need training

Additional Factors in Tree Service Pricing

  • Haul Away/Clean Up

    • Does the work estimate include hauling away the debris?

    • What is expected in the clean-up process after work is completed?

  • Seasonal Considerations

    • Are there additional expenses during a particular time of year?

      • For example, painting cuts on oak trees during oak wilt season

  • Recent Events/Weather

    • Was there just a big storm? Access for private companies to municipal resources like a greenfill might be restricted or the fees increased.

    • Increase in pricing and availability of fuel or equipment may lead to increased costs or reduced availability.

Don’t always go with the lowest estimate! When our owner, Amy Langbein Heath, was starting out as an arborist, she gave a bid to a friend to remove a tree with a rotten trunk. The friend decided to go with a removal estimate that was about half the price of Texas Tree Surgeons. Amy reminded her friend to ask for the company’s insurance, especially because it was a potentially difficult and dangerous removal.

A few hours into the removal, the tree crew dropped part of the trunk onto the garage and power lines. Rather than take responsibility, and probably because they were not insured, the tree trimmers left, and Amy’s friend was unable to get in touch with them. Trying to save a little bit on the tree work led to damage to her home and power outages that cost well beyond what Amy’s friend would have paid to a reputable company.