This is the time of year for you to begin thinking about changes to your lawn. The first step to your landscaping efforts may be to get rid of an unsightly or inconvenient tree. But removing a tree isn’t as simple firing up the chainsaw in your garage that’s gathering dust. In most cases, calling a professional is your best bet for success.
In this article, we’ll break down the typical tree removal costs. We'll also explain what you can do to ensure you choose the best company for the job.
Why Hire a Professional
Removing a tree may seem like an easy task, but it’s one best left to professionals. Dozens of people are injured or killed each year in tree removal and trimming related accidents. Tree removal companies will have special equipment that will make the job safer as well as technical knowhow.
Cost Factors of Tree Removal
No two trees are the same, so the cost to remove them can vary greatly. Some projects are complex undertakings and require a good deal of planning, labor, and equipment. Depending on the type and location of the tree, you may also need to obtain permits and/or permission from your HOA. Other situations are more cut and dry and can be completed quickly with one or two power tools.
A few things will influence the price of your tree removal:
The size of the tree
One of the most significant factors to consider is the size of the tree. A young, 20-foot tree will be easier to remove than a towering 80-foot behemoth. Many removal companies will charge per foot, so the taller your tree is, the higher the final bill will be.
Cutting vs. stump removal
The stump can be the most stubborn part of the tree to remove. Long reaching roots can make it difficult to extract and older tree. This is why a stump grinder is sometimes required to get the entire tree removed.
A job that calls for a stump grinder will likely increase the total. Simply trimming or cutting down a tree will be cheaper than total removal. Removing the stump entirely can also help avoid unwanted termite issues later down the line.
Hazards and obstacles around the tree
A tree sitting in your front yard may require different skills than one that’s tangled up in a powerline. Aside from making the job more dangerous to complete, obstacles can increase the time and labor required. For instance, if a large portion of a tree hangs over a structure, extra precautions may need to be taken. This can prevent parts of the tree from falling on and damaging that build.
Emergency tree removal
Some removal companies have employees on call 24/7 for emergencies such as trees falling on power lines or buildings. If you call a tree removal service after hours, expect to pay a premium for them to address your fallen tree.
If you want to keep the tree instead of feeding it to the chipper, you can sometimes have it transplanted. Transplanting can add a few hundred dollars to the final service. It will require workers to prepare the new space and take special care not to harm the tree when moving it.
Average Tree Removal Costs
According to TreeRemoval.com, the average cost to remove a tree is $643. Some people pay as little as $200 for quick and easy projects, while more complex tree services may cost upwards of $1,300. Additional services such as wood chipping and stump grinding can add anywhere from $50 to $300 to your final bill.
Keep costs low with preventative maintenance
As always, an ounce of prevention can save a pound of trouble. Budget time in your schedule for regular trimming and pruning of your trees. This can may save you money down the road should you choose to have it removed.
Tree Removal Regulation & Fees
Even if a tree sits on your property, that does not mean you can remove it without penalty. Some municipalities like Austin have ordinances in place to protect certain species and heritage trees. To remove a tree that falls under the definition of a heritage tree, you’ll need to obtain a permit. This accounts for both the type and the height of the tree.
In Austin, a heritage tree is defined as a tree that has a diameter of 24 inches or higher, is at least 4.5 feet tall, and is one of the following species:
- Texas Ash
- Bald Cypress
- American Elm
- Cedar Elm
- Texas Madrone
- Bigtooth Maple
- All Oak trees
- Arizona Walnut
- Eastern Black Walnut
Removal includes complete uprooting, severing the trunk, damaging root systems, and excessive pruning. To obtain a permit, you must apply to the City Arborist Program, schedule an inspection, pay the applicable fees. In Austin, a Residential Demolition Tree Inspection costs $243.
Choosing the Right Tree Removal Company
Just as it’s essential to hire a professional, it’s equally important that you hire the right professional. Here are a few of the things you can do to ensure you find the right arborist for the job.
- Read Reviews or Ask for Referrals. Check for any online reviews to see what customers say about the service they received. Some companies may not have reviews on their website but will be happy to provide you with a testimonial on request. A reputable company should be happy to provide you with the contact information of customers that can vouch for them. For local recommendations, ask your neighbors or pose the question to your neighborhood on a site like Nextdoor. If they've worked with a tree removal company, they will have some advice.
- Check for Licenses or Certifications. Ask if they are certified or licensed by trade organizations. This shows that the company takes the initiative to stay educated and informed with the tools and techniques of the industry.
- Ensure That the Company Has Proper Insurance. The company should have liability and worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance protects your home and belongings if they are damaged. It will also cover any injury that may occur to workers on the job.
- Ask Questions. If you have any other questions or concerns about employee training, equipment, services offered, or more— ask!
Following a few of these steps ensures you won't be disappointed with the quality or cost of your work.
Whether you’re looking to remove a dangerous tree or are undergoing a spectacular landscaping transformation, always consider hiring a professional. This is the best way to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your belongings.
*This article was originally published on January 27, 2020.