How much does it cost to trim a tree?
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Tree Trimming Cost Guide
Updated: August 17, 2022
Tree trimming is the process of shaping the tree, creating a more appealing look for it. It is also done to minimize risks to other structures, such as a home when branches are not growing properly or are growing too large. By contrast, pruning is done to improve the health of the tree. Trimming adds appeal.
Trimming prices range from $175 to $750, with the average homeowner paying around $450 to trim a 20-foot tree, such as a small cypress with a specific round shape. Costs could be as low as $75 to trim a 15-foot crepe myrtle with good accessibility or as high as $1,800 for a pine tree over 100 feet tall, hard to reach, and has very thick branches to cut.
Tree Trimming Prices
|Tree Trimming Service Cost|
|National average cost||$450|
Pruning vs Trimming
It’s quite common to see the words “tree trimming” and “tree pruning” used interchangeably. While that may be the case, the two are different services. Trimming is about improving the aesthetics of the tree, the way it looks, its shape, and overall appeal. This is usually completed by a trimmer. Pruning is a process that involves updating branches and cutting the trees to encourage its health and support its longevity. Because pruning is a more complex process and takes a better understanding of tree physiology and care, it’s often completed by an arborist. The expertise provided by this professional increases the price of this service. Pruning prices range from $350 to $650, and sometimes more for larger trees.
|Project||Average Price (Labor Included)|
|Trimming||$175 - $750|
|Pruning||$350 - $650|
Tree Trimming Cost by Size
Trimming service prices vary because of multiple factors but are primarily based on the size of the trees. Larger ones require more skill, specialized equipment, and enhanced safety equipment. There's more risk to trimming those trees, often leading to the need for taller cranes, onsite bucket trucks, and harnesses for trimmers. Larger trees typically have larger, thicker branches up high, which may mean people have to get much higher using high-powered saws. This work increases the overall cost. Smaller ones may still need significant work, which may increase prices beyond these ranges.
|Size||Average Price (Labor Included)|
|Small (10 - 20 Feet)||$75 - $300|
|Medium (20 - 30 Feet)||$150 - $450|
|Large (30 - 50 Feet)||$150 - $800|
|Extra Large (50 - 100 Feet)||$300 - $1,800|
Trim a Small Tree
Expect to pay $75 to $300 to trim a small tree of 10 to 20 feet, including the cost of labor. They are easier to reach, making them simpler to trim. Often, trimmers can remain on the ground during the trimming, reducing the need for cranes. The size of their branches is also typically thinner, requiring smaller equipment to cut through them. For example, this may include dogwoods, Japanese maples, Allegheny serviceberry, and redbuds.
Trim a Medium-Sized Tree
A medium-sized tree of 20 to 30 feet may range from $150 to $450 to trim. This may include crabapples, golden chain trees, some dogwoods, crepe myrtle, and red buckeye trees. Medium-sized trees are often those that are about the size of a two-story house. At this height, it's common to need ladders or harnessing equipment for those climbing the tree. They may also require more team members to help with the processing of the tree, including the removal of the branches.
Average Cost to Trim a Large Tree
The price of trimming a large tree is $150 to $800. They are between 30 and 50 feet or typically taller than a larger home. Numerous of these can reach this height, especially if they’ve had some time to grow. Evergreen, maple, and spruce are some examples of larger trees. The taller the tree, the more complex. At this height, most trees need the harnessing of trimmers and more powerful saws to cut through the thicker branches. Some may require the use of a crane to help with reaching upper branches. Trimming large trees such as spruce is not an easy job and requires the expertise of a professional.
Trim an Extra Large Tree
Extra large trees average between $300 and $1,800 to trim. They range from 50 to 100 feet. Those larger than this may be more expensive. They typically require larger equipment, including bucket trucks, to reach the highest portions. More so, these ones pose an increased risk if those branches fall, raising the costs significantly. Some examples of these larger trees include cottonwood, some weeping willows, quaking aspen, and swamp Spanish oak.
Tree Trimming Prices by Type of Tree
The type of tree plays a role in the price of trimming it. The trimming cost per tree often relates to the amount of difficulty in the process. Some are simply more challenging than others. Not all have straight, easy-to-reach branches, for example. Here, we’ll look at the price of trimming trees, including conifers, fruit trees, and others. Remember, too, that this also takes into consideration the overall average tree within these types. It is possible to have a very tall crape myrtle, for example, due to a species subset, impacting the cost.
|Type||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Crape Myrtle||$75 - $400|
|Palm Tree||$100 - $1,500|
|Cypress||$150 - $1,200|
|Oak||$175 - $1,500|
|Pine||$200 - $1,800|
Trim Crape Myrtle
The cost to trim a crape myrtle ranges from $75 to $400. They are typically small, ranging between 10 and 30 feet in height. Those on the larger side may cost a bit more. They typically have more of a shrub-style to them, with a larger top that’s typically dense. They often have bright flowers during the spring months. The branches are woody but typically thin, making them easier to trim. Crape myrtle trees often have branches that are easier to reach, making them a bit less challenging to trim.
Palm Tree Trimming
Palm trimming costs range from $100 to $1,500, depending on the type and size. They typically grow straight up, with some bend to them. They can reach 100 or more feet tall, but the wide range also includes shorter species like the queen palm, usually around 30 feet tall. They typically do not have branches along the stem but instead have evergreen leaves that create a fan-like shape. They can be difficult to trim because of their height. Often, it’s necessary to remove dead fronds, or leaves, at the top of the tree as these can be unattractive. Costs can rise if the palm is quite tall or hard to access, requiring cranes for the cutting process.
Cypress Tree Trimming
The average cost to trim a cypress ranges from $150 to $1,200. Cypresses are mid-way between large shrubs and trees. They can be as short as 15 feet but reach out to 100 feet. They have a pyramidal shape to them, especially when they are young. Most often, they have a straight trunk that tapers at the base. These are conifers with scale-like short needles. One feature that may make them harder to trim is the need for skilled shaping. Because of the denseness of the branches and the often-desired rounding shape, this takes a bit more skill to get just right.
Average Cost of Oak Tree Trimming
The average cost of oak trimming typically ranges from $175 to $1,500, and sometimes more. They are known for their large, towering size and formidable structure. They can reach 100 feet in height and have a trunk that’s 9 feet in width. The large size of these trees and the denseness of the wood itself makes them much harder to trim. They often have numerous branches to trim.
Pine Tree Trimming
Pine trimming costs range from $200 to $1,800. This depends on the size of the it. They can be as short as 30 or 40 feet in height, but most are much taller, at about 150 to 210 feet or higher. They can be more complex to trim because of their shape and the need to maintain their pyramid-like shape. Pines are conifers but typically have lighter-weight wood, which minimizes the need for more expensive equipment.
Average Price for Tree Trimming by Difficulty
Many things can make a trimming project more difficult than others. A tree professional will provide insight during a quote about the complexity of the project. This typically depends on the height, the overall size of the trunk and branches, and other factors.
The cost to get trees trimmed when a tree is small and thin is less than when the tree is larger or has very thick or dense branches. It’s also important to consider costs associated with the process. For example, a large tree that needs upper limbs trimmed requires the use of equipment. That equipment may involve obtaining a permit and having a licensed operator. That could increase the cost. Trees in difficult locations, such as in a backyard with limited access from a truck, may require trimmers to use cranes to assist in the task. This, too, can increase the cost.
A smaller one with few limitations may cost $75 to $300 to trim. One that’s more difficult, perhaps requiring heavy equipment or specialized professionals, may cost between $200 and $600 for a 20-foot-tall tree. Larger ones with difficult access and specialized care needs can cost $600 to $1,800 or more to trim, especially when taller.
It is difficult to put a price on trimming based on difficulty because the project has different requirements and expectations. It is always necessary to get a quote for the service.
|Level of Difficulty||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Low||$75 - $300|
|Medium||$200 - $600|
|High||$600 - $1,800|
Tree Trimming Services Cost
Work with a professional on trimming projects is essential. Doing so ensures the work is done properly to protect the health of the tree (to minimize damage to it) and to ensure the end result is desirable. More so, it’s a safety risk to trim even a single branch if it is over a home.
It’s less common for a professional to charge a per-hour rate for trimming. Rather, most will charge a per-project rate or a price to complete all aspects of the project together. This factors in the cost associated with the labor to do the work and any equipment needed. Costs associated with trimming include the location, accessibility, height, and difficulty of the project. A per-project rate may include more than one tree, too.
Trimmers may charge by the hour if they believe the job is more complex, requiring extensive shaping. They may also be unsure how long the project may take, meaning charging by the hour allows them more leeway in pricing the tree should it take longer to complete than expected. Other times, the property owner may prefer an hourly rate. Trimming cost per hour ranges from $50 to $80 per hour per worker. When more workers are present for safety reasons or because the job is large, that will increase the costs significantly.
Trimming generally includes an initial quote to scope out the project and create a plan. From there, the team assembles the necessary equipment, such as saws, harnesses, bucket trucks, and other needed items. After securing larger limbs, the team typically works to remove them, one by one, until the tree is shaped properly to the desired outcome. Then, the trimmers clean up the branches. There is no way to anticipate the time it may take for this type of project simply because every tree is different. A single tree that’s smaller may take about one to two hours to complete. Large ones, especially those over 50 feet in height, may take three to six hours to complete depending on difficulty. In some cases, a flat rate fee may be more competitive. For example, a trimmer may state that they offer an overall discount on a larger project that is less than a per-tree rate. This depends on the trimmer's desire to offer a deal to get the larger project.
Shrub Trimming Prices
The cost to trim a shrub averages $40 to $180. Smaller shrubs of under 5 feet typically cost around $40 to $80 to trim. Shrubs up to 10 feet may cost $170 to $180 to trim. The larger the shrub is, the more difficult it is to shape. That can increase the costs on top of factors such as location and specialized features. Shrub trimming prices may also range by how many shrubs are being trimmed together. Most often, a trimmer charges for a row of shrubs at a time. A 5 foot by 5 foot shrub would meet the qualifications of a smaller shrub because it requires less work. A 10 foot by 10 foot shrub is a larger shrub.
Emergency Tree Trimming
Trimming costs for emergencies may increase fees by $50 to $200 or more. For example, after a storm, a hanging tree branch over a home can pose a risk. Despite not being merely aesthetic, this is still considered trimming work. It’s not necessary to call an arborist for this, in most cases, since the health of the tree may not be compromised. It may be beneficial to use this type of service in situations where a branch has fallen onto a neighbor’s fence, or you need to have the work done quickly for any other reason.
Tree Maintenance Cost
Trimming is one step in keeping trees looking good, but it doesn’t do anything to improve the overall health of the tree. Other costs are associated with doing that. Pruning is a specialized service aimed at helping to improve the overall health of the trees. Costs range from $350 to $650, with the average 30-foot apple tree costing about $450 to prune. It may be beneficial to provide fertilizer to keep it healthy. Professional applications cost between $100 and $350 per service. Another possible service is leaf clean-up. The average cost for leaf clean-up is $200 to $400, with most people paying about $300 for vacuuming and mulching leaves on a 10,000 sq.ft. property for garden or compost.
Arborist vs Tree Trimmer
When considering the branch trimming cost, most people can select a professional trimmer or choose an arborist. As noted, an arborist is a necessary investment for those who need a pruning service. These are licensed and certified professionals. They’ve had extensive training related to tree health and damage prevention. They provide a higher level of support, including help for disease, decaying, and otherwise damaged trees. Most often, an arborist will provide direction about trimming and pruning to better the tree’s health. Expect to pay an arborist $87 to $116 per hour for their service. By comparison, a trimming professional costs between $50 to $80 per hour. Although trimmers usually tackle aesthetics, in certain situations where an arborist’s expertise is not needed, a trimmer can be hired for the job.
|Tree Trimmer||$50 - $80|
|Arborist||$85 - $120|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
The average cost for yard clean-up services is between $200 and $500. Yard clean-up costs may help to spruce up the look of the property by removing debris and leaves from the space. This may include some trimming services and shrub shaping. This may also include weed maintenance and removal of damaged or no longer desired plants.
Tree and Stump Removal
Tree removal costs range from $400 to $900. It includes removing branches and most of the trunk. This may be necessary if the tree is damaged, dead, or no longer desirable to keep it in its current place. Removal costs range based on the size and type, along with the accessibility of the tree. Stump removal goes further and removes the remaining portion of the tree’s trunk, often grinding it down to ground level or removing the entire stump. This costs $200 to $700 per tree.
Log Splitting and Wood Chipping
Log splitting costs typically range between $35 and $100 for a cord of hardwoods. Costs can reach as high as $400 depending on the tree size and type. The cost of chipping service ranges from $50 to $100 as an added tree cutting service cost. Split logs can be used for an outdoor firepit after they dry out. Sometimes, homeowners sell these to those who have a fireplace. Wood chips can be helpful to use as mulch, such as spreading them around the base of the trees. This can help improve water flow and protect the tree's roots.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. Permitting may be necessary in some cities. This is more common for larger trees. The professional can help to determine if a permit is needed (it’s also usually included in the cost quoted).
- DIY. DIY is not recommended for a trimming project. Although it may be more affordable if you already have the necessary tools and safety equipment, some trees may be high enough to need the use of certain equipment. Using that equipment without knowing how to use it or not using it if necessary is not safe. On the other hand, trimming a tall tree may result in someone being hurt, damage to the home, or damage to fencing should it be hard to control falling branches.
- Home value. Trimming and shaping a tree may help boost home value if it improves the first impression and curb appeal of the home. A poorly shaped one may be a distraction to home buyers.
- Power line concerns. Don’t trim branches near power lines. Instead, call the utility company who will, in most cases, trim the branches at no charge to you.
- Don’t seal cuts. Trimming off a branch exposes the underlying surface. Don’t tar or paint over these areas. Doing so can cause damage to the health of the tree.
- Heritage trees. If a tree is old or has historical value to it, the city may limit your ability to trim it or require approval before doing so. Use a professional with experience.
- Pruning and trimming standards. There is a standard set by the American National Standards Institute for tree pruning and trimming called ANSI A300. This calls for following certain tools and methods depending on the situation. It also sets the standards for calculating an estimate for the project.
- When is the best time to trim trees?
The best time to trim trees is in spring to early summer. It may also be possible to trim in the late fall before the winter months set in. It is possible to trim at any time of the year when hazardous conditions exist.
- How much does it cost to trim a tree?
The cost to trim a tree ranges between $175 and $750, depending on the size and scope of the project. Smaller ones may be cheaper to trim, especially if they need little work to complete the project.
- How often should trees be trimmed?
Trimming should happen every spring when needed. It’s best to have a professional trim the tree whenever areas are growing out of shape or when trying to minimize the size of the tree’s growth.
- What do tree trimmers charge per hour?
Trimmers typically charge per tree or per project. However, a professional trimmer may charge between $50 and $80 per hour in some situations.
- Is it cheaper to trim a tree or cut it down?
This depends on the tree’s size and condition. Trimming is typically less expensive because it involves less overall work. However, that work may be consistent, year after year. If the tree is undesirable, removing it may be the best long-term solution.
- What is the difference between tree trimming and pruning?
Trimming is the process of improving the way the tree looks by removing or trimming branches to create an aesthetically appealing look. Pruning involves focusing on the health needs of the trees. This may include trimming to encourage growth, limit growth, or manage disease or pests.
- When should you not trim trees?
The best time to trim most trees is mid to late winter when they are dormant. You should avoid doing this job during the summer or in the fall. Summertime is bad because the tree is in the middle of its growing season, and the trimming causes stress. Fall is also not ideal because it prevents the tree from transitioning into its dormancy period. However, some trees call for being trimmed in the late spring or early summer after they have bloomed.
- How much of a tree can you cut without killing it?
Typically, you should only trim about 25% of a tree’s canopy during a single session. If you are doing a one-time trim or are waiting two to three years between projects, you can get away with cutting about 30% of the tree. On the other hand, you should only trim about 10% to 15% if you are planning on pruning your tree every year.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.