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Why is tree work so expensive?

Why is tree work so expensive? Often people ask that question. "I just want that one tree taken out" and I was quoted a price equal to:

a) three iPhones

b) 600 pumpkin spice lattes;

c) a Caribbean cruise or

d) 23 front row tickets to Disney on Ice

There are many different aspects of tree work that have a wide range of costs, but let’s start with the most common expense of tree removal. It can be difficult to understand why removing a tree can cost so much. To the cistomer, the whole process should be as simple as “just cutting it down.” But to a qualified tree company, the work is usually much more involved than making one cut with a chain saw.


Trees being removed often need to be cut apart one section at a time to avoid dropping whole tree sections onto buildings, into traffic or on power lines. This requires an understanding of how the tree holds itself up and how these pieces will respond to being cut with a chain saw. Usually, specialized equipment is needed, such as aerial lifts or cranes to access the tree safely. This equipment is very expensive to buy and maintain. Often, the use of this equipment involves setting up traffic control in busy streets where permits and additional flagging support are needed.

Difficult and Dangerous

Arboriculture, and tree removal, in particular, is difficult and dangerous work. Tree crews are regularly asked to work on trees that have been compromised from storm damage or years of neglect. These compromised trees are often dead trees, which are particularly dangerous. A tree that has been dead for several years usually becomes brittle and inflexible. When you try to cut it down, it will often shatter, throwing broken branches onto your landscaping in an uncontrolled manner. At the very least, this could cause property damage, such as a broken window. In the worst-case scenario, a climber will be in the tree making the cut as it breaks apart with him/her in it. Too often, tree workers are in trees that have electrical conductors running through the branches. That hazard should speak for itself.

Insurance & Licensing

Because tree work can be so hazardous, qualified companies will have liability insurance to protect the homeowner’s property, as well as workers’ compensation insurance to protects it's employees - in the arbor care industry, insurance for tree companies can be some of the highest among different types of skilled trades.. Also, some municipalities require tree companies to hold additional licensure above the usual business license in order to operate. If you look for companies that are less expensive but may not carry insurance, you are risking having to pay damages several times the original job estimate if something goes wrong.

Trained & Certified Workers

A reputable tree company will have employees that have years of experience and knowledge so that a tree job can be assessed and completed safely. Employees often will have a CDL (commercial drivers license), so that trucks and equipment can be brought to a job site. A CDL, has its own set of safety practices / certification testing that need to be maintained. Often times a tree company will have a certified arborist which is a rigorous training program and testing to obtain the certification. A good tree company will invest in ongoing safety training for it employees. Most tree professionals will speak freely of their certifications and training programs because a great deal of effort goes into those achievements. When you choose a good reputable tree care professional you can trust that things will be done safely with a high level of care for your home or business. Sure, the price is important, but as the saying goes..."you get what you pay for".


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