Tree pruning costs between £100 and £500, depending on the size of the tree. This usually adds up to about £100 to £150 for a small tree and £500 upwards for a large tree. However, size is not the only important cost factor.
Tree pruning prices will also depend on the tree’s health and the type of pruning service required. Therefore, a damaged or diseased tree is costlier to prune or trim, and crown thinning is costlier than dead wooding.
These cost factors bring certain complexities to the job, and prices will vary accordingly. That’s the case for all forms of tree surgery (including tree felling and stump removal), not just tree trimming and pruning.
Therefore, the best I can do is provide a range of tree pruning prices. To get exact costs, you will have to wait until a tree surgeon (aka arborist) or gardener inspects the tree.
Before that happens, read on because this article will show you want you are about to walk into. It will prepare you for any tree trimming and pruning job by discussing the whys, hows and whats. It will cover the basics of working with a professional tree surgeon or even executing tree trimming jobs yourself.
How Much Does Tree Pruning Cost?
|Tree trimming job
|Cost (£) for a small tree
|Cost (£) for a large tree
The tree pruning prices in the table cover labour, supplies, equipment and waste removal. However, note that there is little to no need for supplies when trimming and pruning trees. So, expenses are limited to labour, equipment and waste removal.
Labour is the most important of these three. Both regular gardeners and tree surgeons charge around £35 to £55 per hour or £250 to £300 per day for tree pruning jobs. However, note that the average tree surgeon costs more than a gardener.
Whoever you hire will come with their own equipment with the costs already included in their quote. These tools include a pair of shears, mechanised cutter, chainsaw, ladder, harness, secateurs, raised platforms, ropes etc., depending on the job. However, you will probably have to pay extra if they need specialised or bigger equipment.
The final element, garden waste removal, costs about £40 to £100 in all the tree pruning cost estimates listed in the table.
What are the Factors Affecting Tree Pruning Costs?
We have already established that tree trimming and pruning prices will vary from one job to another. So, it is only right that we cover the reasons for these possible variations. The idea is that an understanding of these factors will help you get better rates from tree surgeons.
So let’s dive right in.
Size implies both the width and height of a tree(s). All other factors being equal, wider and taller trees will cost more to prune or trim. The job will require climbing tools like ladders, raised platforms or harnesses and stronger cutting tools like chainsaws. The tree surgeon will also be exposed to a higher risk of injuries. Finally, the number of labourers needed may also increase.
None of these is needed when having a small tree pruned. The tree surgeon (or you) can even complete the job from the ground. At most, they will use a tool with an extended arm. Therefore, tree trimming prices will be lower.
Tree species (type)
Let’s use deciduous and fruit trees as examples. All other factors being equal, fruit tree pruning is harder. Therefore, the cost of pruning a pear tree should be lower than that of an oak tree.
However, deciduous trees (like oak) need trimming more frequently. Plus, the average oak tree is taller than the average pear tree; as we already know, tree pruning costs should be higher for the larger tree. That gives us two different ways that tree species affect pruning prices.
The number of trees
The more trees you need to trim or prune, the higher the total cost of the project. This is because it will take more working hours and labour. Therefore, it will be cheaper to have two trees trimmed than five.
One on the flip side, tree surgeons sometimes offer better rates when trimming a higher number of trees.
The health of the tree
The scope and complexity of a tree trimming and pruning job depend on the health status of the tree. That is why tree surgeons will first inspect that tree to identify the injured, dead or diseased branches and limb(s). The bigger the problem, the bigger the scope of the job.
Besides, tree surgeons also have to be extra careful when dealing with damaged and diseased trees. They will need to control the trajectory of falling branches and prevent the spread of diseases or pests to other trees and plants in the area. Thus, the job becomes more complex.
So, as the job becomes bigger and more complex, the cost of tree trimming and pruning will rise.
This includes the accessibility of both the site and the tree(s) itself. So if the tree surgeons need heavy mechanised equipment and have difficulty getting them onto the site, expect tree trimming costs to rise.
Expect the same result (higher costs) with a tree encroaching on a building, pathway or power line. Access is impaired. The tree surgeon(s) will also have to exercise more care to control the trajectory of felled branches. They may also have to block access to the area. In cases of public spaces, this will require special permits. Thus further driving up tree trimming costs.
In simple terms, the standard of living in your location will affect the cost of tree pruning and trimming. Therefore, expect costlier tree trimming and pruning services in the southeast and big cities.
However, location, our final cost factor, doesn’t just affect tree surgery. It affects pretty much every home improvement project and then some.
Additional costs and considerations of tree pruning
There are two main additional costs in tree trimming and pruning. These two are the “call out fee” and tree survey costs.
Call out fee
A professional tree surgeon will probably want to inspect the tree(s) before giving a quote. For this, they may charge a minimum call-out fee of about £200 to £400. The good news is that this money will be deducted from your final charges.
However, you probably won’t get your money back if the job goes to another tree surgeon. This is one of the many reasons to know the terms of every agreement.
You can’t just trim, prune or fall trees willy-nilly. Some are protected by the laws, like the Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Trees located in conservation areas are also protected. There are legal penalties and fines for any alteration that endangers such protected trees.
That is why you need a tree survey. It costs about £230 to £300. A typical tree survey will provide the species, features, conservation status and other information about the tree and entire vegetation of the site.
The survey can be broken up into two stages. Firstly, the tree surgeon will conduct an on-site survey. Then, they will check the local council to find out what sort of tree surgery is permissible and not permissible for the tree.
Types of tree pruning and trimming services
Here are brief breakdowns of what you will get when paying for the tree trimming and pruning services.
The crown is the canopy of leaves and branches at the top of a tree. Therefore, crown thinning is trimming these parts, usually by about 25% or less in one go. As a result, unhealthy and overgrown branches are removed, allowing more sunlight to reach the lower parts, improving aesthetics and encouraging the sprouting of new branches.
Compared to crown thinning, crown reduction is much more selective. The crown is also trimmed more heavily. Therefore crown reduction has a much more significant effect. It is also much more dangerous to the tree.
Crown reduction encourages canopy spread and discourages vertical growth (height).
While the first two tree trimming actions reduce the upper parts of the tree, this reduces the lower parts. Thus crown lifting is the process of cutting off branches in the lower parts. It encourages the tree to grow taller.
Pollarding is also used to control the height of a tree. Only this time, the goal is to limit the tree to a certain height. To do this, the tree surgeon (or you) will have to remove or trim the upper branches. Apart from controlling growth, this also encourages dense foliage.
This is mainly used to curtail unwanted and dangerous branch growth. Direction pruning involves the removal of branches growing in the direction you don’t want, thereby encouraging the tree to grow in the direction you want.
Dead wooding is the process of cutting off dead branches. This can save a diseased or dying tree. At the very least, it will encourage healthy growth.
Looping is the process of cutting off branches (usually large ones) on the sides of a tree. It is used to modify the shape of the tree.
The Importance of Tree pruning
Pruning and trimming are crucial to the growth and health of a tree and the safety of the other trees, people and properties in its environment. Here is a brief breakdown of each benefit.
It encourages healthy growth and fruitfulness
Even with healthy trees, old branches need to go. They are more prone to diseases and damage. They also take up a lot of resources. After removal, those resources will go towards fruiting and new branches. Therefore, a healthy tree needs to be trimmed almost as much as an unhealthy one.
It curtails the spread of diseases and pests
Removing dead and diseased branches can prevent the problem from spreading to other parts of the tree. As a result, that tree has a better chance of survival. This corrective measure works for both disease and pest infestations.
For an un-saveable or dead tree, a tree surgeon will recommend removal. Tree removal costs between £50 and £250 depending on size and whether you decide to use stump removal alone or include grinding.
It improves the aesthetics of the tree
Aesthetics is also a big reason why we prune trees. Trimming and pruning will immediately improve the look of any overgrown, damaged or diseased tree. This improves the aesthetics and market value of the entire property by extension.
In fact, the condition and looks of a tree are so important that they can affect the mortgaging terms of a property.
It improves convenience and reduces the risk of danger to life and property
Dead, damaged and diseased branches can come crashing down at any time, putting life and property at risk. Overgrown tree limbs and foliage can block pathways, views and natural sunlight or encroach on roofs and power lines.
Therefore, removing these undesirables through tree trimming and pruning makes the environment safer for people and properties.
How to know when to have a tree trimmed or pruned
All trees need pruning occasionally. Young or old, small or large, diseased or healthy- it doesn’t matter. They all need pruning and trimming. The only difference is whether the process is executed for maintenance or corrective purposes.
That’s why tree maintenance is important. Sadly, we can’t cover it in this article. However, here is my tip. Tree maintenance will differ depending on the specie and age of the tree. So, look for tips intended for your tree(s) or ask your tree surgeon for recommendations.
For now, here is how to know if a tree needs pruning or trimming.
- Is the foliage too dense?
- Is there dead or broken branches?
- Are there holes, splits and cracks in the branches and bark?
- Is there a pest or fungal infestation?
- Is there decaying? Note it usually takes a long time for this to reach the surface.
- Are the leaves discoloured?
- Are the fruits too small and few?
How to Find a Qualified Tree Surgeon
Tree pruning is a job for a tree surgeon or a gardener. Note that the former is more qualified for complex and difficult tree surgery jobs, hence the name, tree surgeon.
Whoever you hire must be qualified, experienced and trustworthy. So here are some tips.
- Ask family members, neighbours, colleagues, nurseries and gardening centres for recommendations
- Check listings for local tree surgeons
- Check the internet
Then use the following tips to assess the candidates.
- Do they have the right certificates and licenses such as HNC/ HND/ FDSc, Guilds Phase II or ND(Arb)? Note: this is not a deal breaker.
- Do they belong to professional bodies like Arboricultural Association (AA) or the Competent Persons Scheme? Note: this is also not a deal breaker.
- Do they have public liability insurance?
- Do they have enough experience with similar tree trimming and pruning projects with evidence?
- Do they have good references?
Use the parameters above to choose 2 to 3 qualified tree surgeons. Then compare tree surgeon prices, choose the right fit and get a written quote stating all the terms of the contract.
Can You Prune a Tree Yourself?
Yes, you can, but I recommend only doing this in cases of a small tree. When it comes to a large tree, it is better to hire a professional. They have better tools and more experience. Therefore, they can trim and prune trees much more efficiently and safely.
However, if you choose DIY tree trimming, the following tips will help.
- Stay away from complex jobs and large trees
- Stick to small trees (no taller than six feet)
- Stick to small branches (no larger than five centimetres in diameter)
- Prune trees at an earlier age. It is easier for you and better for the tree.
- Stick to branches with narrow V-shaped joints
- Stay away from branches with thick U-shaped joints
- Avoid over-pruning
How to save money when trimming and pruning trees
Here are four helpful tips.
- Try DIY tree pruning: Remember to only do this for small trees and scrubs
- Prepare the area for the tree surgeons: Remove anything that can impair access and constitute additional work for which you will be charged. This can make the project faster and cheaper.
- Remove waste yourself: You can even use the waste as firewood or green manure etc. Either way, the tree surgeon(s) won’t have to charge you for waste disposal.
- Practise proper tree maintenance: We have discussed this earlier. It will keep your trees healthy, thus reducing the need for expensive corrective measures.
So, there you have it. The cost of pruning trees mainly depends on tree size, but it is also affected by health, tree species, accessibility and location. They (pruning prices) will vary widely but are not very far from the price estimates in this article.
More importantly, pruning and trimming are just two of several other necessary tree maintenance practices to keep your trees healthy and safe. The rest are no less improtant.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between tree pruning and tree trimming?
Many people use these two terms interchangeably, as we did in this article, but you are right to believe there is a difference between them.
Tree trimming is mainly used to encourage healthy growth and improve aesthetics. On the other hand, tree pruning is a corrective measure used to remove unwanted, damaged, dead, or diseased branches to protect the tree and/or other occupants of the area, living and nonliving.
What’s the average price for trimming a tree?
The average price is £100 to £500.
How often to trim a tree
Most trees need to be trimmed once or twice annually. However, it all depends on the age and specie of the tree.
When is the best time of the year to trim a tree?
It depends on the age and specie of the tree. Therefore, it is better to look for advice suited for your particular tree(s). Your tree surgeon will be able to help with that.
However, for a general answer, trim trees when they are dormant. By this time, leaf-bearing branches will be less crowded. For slightly more specific answers, trim-
- Fruit (pear, apple or cherry) trees in summer or early spring
- Evergreen trees in spring or summer
- Deciduous trees in winter or autumn
How long does it take to trim a tree?
It takes about half a day or the entire day.