When it comes to DIY projects for your lawn, most experts agree that tree removal and large branch trimming shouldn’t be among them.
Those jobs are best left to professionals because of specific skills, precision and safety precautions needed.
Saving a few hundred dollars isn’t worth endangering your life.
“There are many stories in the news media each year depicting the sad details of homeowners getting severely injured or killed by attempting to manage large tree limbs on their own,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association.
Tree service can be an extremely complicated and technical.
“There is so much to understand about removing live or hanging tree branches, and it is not at all like cutting up firewood on the ground with a chain saw,” Andersen says.
It’s also important to do your homework when looking for a tree service because any mishaps could have devastating results to your home or the rest of the yard.
Consider these factors when determining the cost of removing a tree and how it will fit into your budget:
Tree height matters
Most companies charge based on the height of the tree, usually with a set fee per foot. The fee may vary based on the height of the tree.
For instance, smaller trees that are only about 20 feet will be less per foot than, say, a 90-foot tree.
If you have an 80-foot tree and the price per foot is $15, you’ll pay $1,200. But a 20-foot tree may only be $9 per foot and cost you $180.
Angie’s List members who recently had a tree cut down reported paying an average of $1,264, with a general range of $1,050 to $1,450, not counting discounts many service providers offer to members.
Trimming trees ran an average of $453 for members, and grinding out a stump cost members an average of $309.
Remember companies pay a high price to maintain licenses, plus insurance that covers workers’ compensation and liability. If the price quoted is unusually low, the company may not have adequate insurance or possess a license.
Nearby hazards create obstacles for tree workers
If your tree is close to power lines or other dangers, the price is usually higher. Dead trees are more hazardous than live ones. As such, many companies will charge you an additional fee for hazardous tree removal.Because you can’t control the size or location of your tree, you may want to have it pruned or trimmed. In that case, the tree’s height and the amount of effort needed to complete the job will determine the price.
A chainsaw is used to cut a tree trunk for easier removal after a storm toppled the tree. (Photo courtesy of FEMA)
Emergency tree removal comes at a higher price
If your tree has been struck by lightning and is ready to fall, you should expect to pay more because the company will need to complete the job quickly. If the company is working during the remnants of a storm, there’s more risk of injury to its workers.
Many tree removal services operate 24 hours a day. They also keep a fleet of specialized vehicles at the ready. Costs vary depending on the size of the tree and the equipment needed to remove it.
You should consider having hazardous trees and ones near your home removed before they turn into an emergency situation.
What to do with a downed tree’s wood?
Once the tree is down, you need to decide how to dispose of it. You will likely pay at least an additional $50 to have the leftovers removed. Here are some options:
Branch chipping and hauling, can run $70 to $150 per hour. If you want the stump taken out, let the tree service know when you ask for an estimate.
Stump grinding is the process used to remove the stump. You can expect to pay an additional $300 for a larger stump and $80 for a smaller one.
If you have a fireplace, you may want to consider paying someone to split the wood, which can be priced from $100 to $200 or more. Check to make sure the sizes a service cuts the wood into will work for your fireplace.
Editor’s Note: Angie’s List writer Jason Hargraves contributed to this updated article that was originally published on Nov. 5, 2014.