If you need to remove a tree on your property, the first question you probably ask is “how much is this going to cost?” You might also wonder who you should call to get a tree removal estimate (hint: it’s not your landscaper) and how to choose the best tree removal company to do the job quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.
The answer to all three questions is it depends. The cost of cutting down a tree depends on a range of factors, all of which influence the final price.
In this guide, we’ll describe:
- the services you can expect to be included with a tree removal job,
- extras that will likely cost more, as well as
- the common factors that can affect the total cost of the work.
Not sure if your tree should be removed? Here are 6 good reasons to cut down a tree >>
But first, let’s cover a few common questions about tree removal costs.
Why can’t I get a tree removal price over the phone?
While most tree service companies can provide a ballpark estimate, we can’t give an accurate price for removing a tree without a visual evaluation of the tree and the area around it. No two trees are alike, and nor are their surroundings. For example, without an inspection, the tree removal crew won’t know how large, unstable, or close to buildings the tree is; all of these influence the price to take down that tree.
Why do different companies quote a different price for cutting down the same tree?
Assuming you’ve asked each tree removal company to quote on exactly the same work, differences in the quoted price will be due to factors unique to each company. That may include:
- travel time from their yard to your location,
- whether they’re doing other work in your neighborhood before or after your job,
- the equipment they’ll use (which can also influence the size of the crew required for the job),
- the training and experience of their crew,
- whether or not they have insurance (you’d be surprised at the number of “tree companies” that don’t have general liability insurance or workers’ compensation),
- whether they are licensed to do tree work (as required by Connecticut law),
- and more. Keep reading for details!
Can’t I just rent some equipment and cut down the tree myself?
Please don’t even consider doing it yourself! The dangers involved in tree removal are too great for homeowners or amateurs to risk. Just climbing a large tree is dangerous – and it can be fatal if you fall. Powerful equipment should only be operated by trained and experienced crew members, not a weekend warrior with rented tools. Homeowners are injured and even killed every week trying to cut down trees themselves. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Why are some trees more expensive to remove than others?
Each tree removal job is unique, and that’s largely influenced by the tree itself. Some of the tree-related factors that affect the cost of tree removal include:
The size of your tree
Size matters when it comes to tree removal; the taller and/or wider the tree, the more work is involved in removing it. A large, tall tree with large branches takes longer to climb and cut down than a small tree, will require a bigger crew, and will create more green waste to chip or haul away.
The location of your tree
If your tree is in a remote spot, in a tight space surrounded by structures, or if vehicle access is limited, it will take longer to remove it. If there are power lines above your tree or entangled in its branches, it will require extra care to take it down safely and the utility company may need to be involved. On the other hand, a tree in an open, flat spot close to a driveway or road is easier to remove because our equipment can be located right next to the tree and our crew won’t have to move cut branches very far.
The condition of your tree
If your tree has been damaged or if it is diseased, we’ll want to inspect it for stability and safety before we start to remove it. Diseased limbs may be brittle and not safe for a climbing crew, and may require extra rigging for safety. A tree that’s already fallen will be much easier to remove, so you can expect a lower price to remove a downed tree.
The species of your tree
Some trees, such as oak trees, have denser, harder wood than others, and that makes cutting and removal more time-consuming. There’s no way around this, it’s nature!
What’s included in a tree removal quote?
You may find that your tree removal quotes vary in price. Before automatically choosing the lowest price, take a moment to review each quote and ask yourself the following:
- Is travel time included? If your tree-removal company is not local, you may be paying for travel time. A local tree-removal company is not only closer, cutting down on travel time, they know your area and can more accurately estimate costs.
- Is clean up and debris removal included? Don’t forget that once the tree has been cut down, it has to be hauled away or placed somewhere on your property. Many homeowners are surprised at just how many branches and logs are left when a tree is taken down! A big pile of debris is not just unsightly, it provides hiding places for rodents, disease pathogens, and destructive insects. Plus, it can quickly become a fire hazard. Unless you live in a forest, it’s best to have all debris removed all at once immediately after your tree has been cut down. Make sure you won’t have debris left behind by ensuring that clean up is part of your price.
- Is chipping included? With some companies, green waste from tree removal can be chipped on site so you can return it to your garden as mulch. It’s a good idea to verify beforehand if this option is available, what it will cost, and where the wood chips will be left.
Note: In most cases, even diseased trees can be chipped into mulch. Research shows that it’s highly unlikely for destructive pathogens in the wood to spread disease to your healthy trees. Just be sure to keep the mulch pulled away from tree trunks and plant stems, and don’t incorporate it directly into the soil.
- Is stump grinding included? Many tree service companies offer stump grinding as an optional service when taking down a tree. It’s the only way to permanently remove a tree stump; without it, you’ll be left with an unsightly stump that will slowly rot away (it often takes 20 years or more!). Having the stump taken out at the same time as your tree will always be more cost-effective than having the tree removal crew come back to grind it at a later date. Be sure to specify if you want stump grinding as part of your tree removal quote.
- Is wood removal or wood splitting (for firewood) included? Do you want firewood split from the trunk and limbs of your tree? There is a charge for this, but it may be less expensive than buying firewood, and you’ve given your tree another life as winter warmth. If you have the wood split, be clear on whether the estimate includes stacking the firewood (versus just leaving it in a pile); if stacking is included, where will it be stacked?
Before making a choice between estimates, make sure all the services you want are included in the price you will be paying. And get everything in writing! Any issues that arise during tree removal that require an additional fee should be clearly defined and added to the original written estimate.
If two tree removal quotes are comparable, what else should I look at?
There are several things that differentiate a high-quality, professional tree removal company from other types of tree cutting services. Here are the questions to ask when considering competing quotes:
- Is a certified arborist part of the crew? Arborists are trained to know about hazard trees, tree structure, tree diseases, and tree roots. You will benefit from their knowledge, especially if pruning the limbs of nearby trees is required to safely remove your tree.
- Is the company fully insured? You’ll want to make sure that the crew removing your tree is fully insured (with both general liability and workers’ comp coverage) and bonded against damage and liability. If an accident happens and damage occurs, a bonded and insured company will take care of repairs or compensate you. An uninsured tree remover or a guy with a truck may have a lower price, but you may pay more if an accident happens or if your lawn gets torn up from equipment and vehicles and you find yourself responsible for repairs.
- Does the company have an arborist with the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) and/or a Certified Tree Safety Professional (CTSP) on staff? Both of these qualifications help ensure that all tree removal work will be done with all safety best practices in place and that the tree will be fully inspected for anything that might risk the safety of the crew, your property, and anyone nearby. This is especially important if the tree removal job is a tricky one.
- Does the tree removal company have experience, and experience with trees similar to yours? Experience is invaluable when it comes to both cost estimating and tree work. You should check a company’s website for their history and services, make sure that any glowing testimonials are real, and find out if there have been any lawsuits in the past.
Why does tree removal cost what it does?
Depending on your point of view, you may feel that professional tree removal prices are just too high. After all, you can probably get a “tree guy” with minimal equipment to do the job for less. But keep in mind the old adage that “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to tree removal, it’s better to pay more to ensure that the job will be done safely, that you’re fully protected in a situation where things don’t go as planned, and that the likelihood of unplanned incidents is absolutely minimized.
Here are some of the costs that influence tree removal prices for experienced, licensed, and insured tree removal professionals in Connecticut.
- Ongoing education to stay on top of the latest and safest tree removal techniques. Yearly education is also required to maintain CT Licensed Arborist and ISA Certified Arborist status (here’s what that’s important).
- Safety and skills training to ensure the job is done correctly and to minimize the risk of damage, injury, or fatalities.
- Tree removal equipment to do the work effectively and efficiently, including large (and very expensive!) cranes, bucket trucks, and grapple saws to access and quickly remove trees in tight spaces. Sometimes, the only way a tree can be removed is by using specialized heavy equipment.
- Daily equipment maintenance and checks by mechanics to keep everything running properly and safely. Lack of proper maintenance can have deadly consequences.
- Insurance and bonds to protect you, your property, and our crews. Tree care liability insurance is some of the most expensive business insurance in the country due to the dangerous nature of the work. Always check that a tree care company has general liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage for their crews (without it, you’ll be stuck paying for medical costs if any injuries happen on the job). Ask to see a company’s certificate of insurance.
- Salaries and benefits for skilled crewmembers (you don’t want an untrained, inexperienced person accidentally dropping a tree on your house, do you?).
- Licenses and registrations that allow the company to perform tree work in Connecticut. Under CT law, a company that does tree work must have a CT Licensed Arborist on staff and be registered with the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP)).
These fixed costs are all part of a professional tree care company’s overhead. Take a long view and remember that a company that is established, responsible, and takes care of its employees, its equipment, and its customers is worth doing business with.
And if you have other trees on your property that will need attention in the future, having started a relationship with an experienced and trustworthy tree care company will come in handy.
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