Tree Pruning: Factors That Affect Cost

Greg Keefer

Trees are a beautiful part of the landscape. Majestic oaks and towering pines add to the glory of any old home and confirm its place in history. But as every homeowner knows, trees don't always age gracefully. Branches die of disease or other natural causes, limbs begin banging on your home's roof or siding, and sooner or later they need to be carefully pruned.

The Cost of Pruning Trees

How much does it cost to have your trees professionally trimmed? Costs range from a hundred dollars or so up into the thousands of dollars--it depends on variables that differ with each job.

Professional tree trimmers should always be insured. If there is any inadvertent damage caused in the process of tree trimming, repairs are covered. Insurance adds to the overhead of doing business, though, so this affects how much you pay for the tree trimming.

Pruning Trees: Types and Processesbad pruning, tree topping

The type of tree trimming you want affects the price. A job that takes an hour is significantly less expensive than a major overhaul and shaping of a tree. Beware, sometimes a significantly cheaper job will result in "topping" or indiscriminate cutting of many branches at a certain height, often away from a lateral branch or collar. This will not only permanently affect the appearance of your tree, but also leave your tree vulnerable to disease and pests (see picture).

It is far more preferrable to have your tree pruned. Types of tree pruning include the following:

  • Crown reduction involves reducing the overall size of the canopy of the tree. Weight is reduced on the limbs and the wind sail lowered to reduce potential damage.
  • Crown raising involves removing the lower branches to allow for clearance close to ground level.
  • Thinning includes selective removal of the branches that reduce light penetration and the movement of air through the crown.
  • Drop crotch trimming focuses on shaping and standardizing the tree's appearance.
  • Collar cutting is precision trimming that removes a branch just beyond the point where it intersects the trunk or another tree limb at the branch collar.
  • Directional trimming involves cutting away branches to force tree growth away from power lines and other obstructions.

Other Factors that Affect the Cost of Pruning Trees

Your tree pruning project's cost is largely determined by the amount of time it takes to complete it. Associated costs that a tree trimmer must cover are wages, lift truck fuel, and limb removal.

The number of tree trimming businesses in your area also may affect your job price. Tree trimming prices respond to supply and demand. A company can charge higher prices if it is the only tree trimming company in town. If there are several businesses offering the same service, the competition keeps the prices down.

Ask for written estimates from two or three tree trimmers. Be aware that costs could go higher if extenuating circumstances come into play during the trimming process.

Tree trimming isn't cheap; however, it's often less expensive than the damage your trees could cause to your home, power lines, and property appearance. Use the services of a professional, insured tree pruning service even if it costs a little more. The results are worth the investment.

The Editors of Old-House Interiors Magazine • Pruning Mature Trees: Methods and Concepts • http://www.oldhouseweb.com/gardening/pruning-mature-trees-methods-and-concepts.shtml

About the Author

Greg Keefer has been a police officer since 1981. He's also been a do-it-yourselfer remodeler with lots of experience in how to do things right and how to do them wrong. He enjoys shar

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