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Cost of Tree Trimming or Pruning

If you have a tree trimming or pruning project that needs to be addressed soon, this article may be useful to you. Tree trimming or pruning is a necessary job that will maintain the health and fruitfulness of the trees and bushes by allowing new growth to take hold and ensures that old and dead branches do not sap the tree's strength.

1-3 days
Average price:

Introduction Trimming & Pruning Trees

Pruning and trimming are beneficial because it encourages strong re-growth and helps maintain general health and well-being. Trees can be an expensive job and, depending on the size of the tree, you may need to employ a certified tree surgeon.

The costs incurred will depend upon the job. The contractor's price will be quoted on the complexity of the project.

It's always advisable to check out the cost of tree trimming before undertaking the task. Whilst smaller tree or hedge trimming may be something you can undertake yourself, the pitfalls and problems associated with tackling a much larger tree are many.

A tree trimming service cost undertaken by professionals may well prove to be a worthwhile investment, as you will not worry about DIY.

Tree trimming costs can vary enormously and isn't a job where an average cost applies. The cost to trim a tree will depend on many factors, depending on its size and location.

It can be a dangerous job requiring special skills, expertise and equipment, and the tree trimming price quoted will reflect this.

Getting a tree trimmed can be an expensive and dangerous job. Prices vary a great deal, depending on a few key factors, mainly how much work is involved, the tree's location and the size of the tree. Fruit tree pruning, for example, will cost less than cutting down a massive ancient oak.

Please remember that some trees have a conservation order and cannot be cut down without prior permission. Cutting down trees unnecessarily is to be frowned upon, as trees are hugely important to our ecosystem.

If you want your apple or cherry tree pruning, you could undertake this type of job yourself using a tree pruning saw. But, if the tree pruning you require is a larger project, it will certainly be worth getting three quotes for tree trimming. This way, you can choose the best prices for the job you require.

A tree surgeon's services may well offset itself in terms of cost and time saving as professionals can do the job far quicker than you as they have all the necessary equipment and expertise.

Asking for quotes from at least three tree pruning companies to get the best tree pruning prices for your job is always prudent.

How Much Does It Cost to Trim or Prune a Tree?

Tree trimming can be an expensive job, requiring special skills andequipment. Tree trimming can be a dangerous job, best left to the professionals.

The prices will vary greatly, depending on a few key factors, mainly how much work is involved, the tree's condition and its location. Are there any problems with access? The final consideration, and one which has many cost implications, is how big the tree is.

These costs are incurred only rarely for tree trimming jobs, and they are not required on an annual basis.

Pruning fruit and common garden trees is a much smaller job. You may decide to get these jobs done once a year, or you may decide to leave a long time between trimmings.

Pruning costs are lower than tree trimming, usually £100 - £350, but pruning can be undertaken on a DIY basis to save on costs.

When considering getting a tree trimmed, the biggest factors to consider are its size and location. To make a comparison, let's assume that the trees are in a moderately good condition.

Below is a table of costs for different tree trimming and pruning jobs.

Tree Trimming and Pruning Costs

Crown Lifting small tree £250 - £300
Crown Lifting large tree £400 - £700
Crown Trimming small tree £400 - £700
Crown Trimming large tree £650 - £1,400
Crown Reduction small tree £2,000 - £3,000
Crown Reduction large tree £4,000 - £5,000
Dead Wooding small tree £400 - £700
Dead Wooding large tree £650 - £1,400
Directional Pruning small tree £200 - £300
Directional Pruning large tree £400 - £700
Pollarding small tree £400 - £700
Pollarding large tree £650 - £1,000

Pruning by Type of Tree

Seasonal pruning usually depends on the type of tree. It isn't necessary for all types of trees. Assuming all your trees are average-sized full-grown trees that have been maintained to a reasonable standard, expect to pay the following:

Type of Tree and Average Costs for Pruning

Tree Species Cost Implication
Apple £150 - £200
Plum £100 - £150
Bay £300 - £350
Magnolia £200 - £250
Cherry £300 - £350
Fig £150 – £200
Olive £200 - £250
Pear £150 - £200
Lilac £100 - £150

Many factors will decide the final cost of your project. The size of the job, the length of time it will take and the cost per hour of your chosen tree surgeons.

Tree surgeons are highly skilled and carry out specialised work. Before choosing a company consider the following:

  • A tree surgeon should be qualified and well trained. Qualifications should include working at height, using a chainsaw from a rope and harness, and using and maintaining equipment such as chainsaws.
  • Usually, one member of the team should be trained to perform an aerial rescue. Whilst these are not legal requirements, tree surgeons without these qualifications lack training.
  • A tree surgeon should be able to give you a full quote in writing that outlines the work to be undertaken.
  • Ensure your chosen contractor visits the site to give you a quote, and don't try to do this over the phone.
  • Tree surgeons need specialist insurance to carry out their work. Check your chosen contractor has this before proceeding

Labour Costs

Below are some tables of what you can expect to pay for labout per housr and per day:

Per Hour Cost
1 hour £40 - £50
2 hours £80 - £100

Per Day Cost
1 day £250 - £300
2 days £400 - £700
3 days £650 - £1,000

Additional Costs

Keep a careful watch on your budget as many factors can affect the tree pruning or trimming price. Factors to bear in mind include:

  • Tree Survey - A typical tree survey costs £200 - £300. If you have a large many trees in your garden, it might be worth having a tree survey done. The survey will give you an idea of your trees' condition and identify any the problem before they occur, including things like roots interfering with foundations.
  • A gardener may be able to trim and prune your trees to generally tidy up your garden and may cost less overall.
  • Garden Waste Removal Costs - Garden waste removal is a job you might be able to combine with getting your trees trimmed. Instead of paying your tree surgeon to remove the waste, you could combine it with general garden clearance. The average cost of waste removal from your garden will be around £200.

Types of Tree Maintenance

Trees are trimmed not just from an aesthetic point of view. Trees that are not trimmed can become unhealthy, especially trees that are standing on their own.

In forests, trees have to compete for light, so they can grow out of control when they are standing on their own.

Therefore, keeping your trees trimmed will keep them healthier. Regular upkeep will help the tree keep its shape and help prevent disease.

Problems will be detected sooner rather than later, which will be cheaper than treating the disease after taking its toll. It can also stop you from losing the tree completely.

Regular maintenance can also prevent your trees from becoming too large, obscuring any views you might enjoy. Maintenance can also stop the roots of a tree encroaching on the foundations of your house.

If this were to happen, the roots would cause costly damage to the foundations of your house. Falling branches can also cause property damage. Regular trimming and maintenance can stop these problems from happening.

There are different types of tree trimming and pruning available and the The costs of trimming a tree depend on your requirements.

  • Crown Lifting – this is where lower branches of a tree are removed because hazardous branches are becoming obstacles. Also, if branches get weak through lack of sunlight, they can fall and cause injury or even death. Crown lifting usually takes around a day to complete. Expect to pay between £400 - £700 for this service.
  • Crown Thinning - removing branches from trees that are becoming too heavy or weak and diseased. No more than a third of the leaf-bearing branches from a tree should be removed during this process. A tree surgeon will often work with a harness at the top of the tree so that the price will reflect this. Expect to pay between £400 – £1,400.
  • Crown Reduction – This is usually a last resort and is a dangerous type of tree trimming. The top of the tree is removed, and usually, around 20%-30% of the crown is removed. This is necessary when the tree has grown too big or its roots are getting too large. The tree's location can complicate it and prove a costly service because of the risks involved in the tree surgeon. Crown reduction prices usually start at around £2,000.
  • Dead Wooding - The removal of dead branches due to lack of light reaching these branches, disease or a lightning strike. Deadwood should be removed urgently, as it can fall and cause injury or damage to property. Costs depend on the tree type, location, and the number of dead branches, usually between £400 and £1,400.
  • Directional Pruning - manages tree growth and involves removing branches growing in an unwanted direction, such as towards a power line or over a main road. To prevent new growth, unwanted branches need to be removed. Directional pruning costs depend on the type of tree and its location. Prices vary between £200 - £700.
  • Pollarding - Pollarding can be used to make a tree grow smaller than it would naturally be. This is achieved either by trimming the top from a young tree or removing most of the branches from an older tree. Expect to pay around £400 - £700, depending on the tree's size and location.

What Does Tree Trimming Involve?

Pruning a tree involves cutting away branches, stem or buds from the main part of the tree. The tree should be assessed before any cutting happens as the main branches should not be cut.

Damaged, dead or diseased branches are selected for trimming or pruning.

Depending on the branch's size, either secateurs may be used, or, for thicker branches, a tree saw. Large, well-established trees will require the use of a chainsaw.

The first cut should be made about 50cm away from where the final cut will be. A wedge is cut out from the base of the branch penetrating roughly halfway through the branch, with the remaining branch cut away from the top.

When most of the branch's main part has dropped away, the final piece is cut off with care. This may involve climbing the tree. Ladders can be used for smaller trees, but tree surgeons tend to work on larger trees using a harness to access the higher parts of the tree.

To encourage new growth, aim to cut off some of the older wood each year. Trees that appear crowded will need to be the focus of attention, as light must be allowed to get to all the branches.

Prune midsized branches and minimise the number of cuts you make, but don't remove thick branches.

Different trees will need special care. Here's some guidance for some of the most popular types of tree.

Plum Trees

Most plum trees are easy to maintain yourself. But you will need to carefully prune it if you want a specific shape of the tree. Prune or trim plum trees from early spring to mid-summer to protect them from a silver leaf disease.

Just above a leaf, cut back the new growth with secateurs to around half their length. Cut any side shoots back to two or three buds above the start of the new season's growth.

Bay Trees

Bay trees do not need pruning for health reasons, but it is useful if you want them to grow in a certain shape. Bay trees are very tolerant of both light and heavy pruning.

This is why you often see them used in topiaries. If this is what you want, they are best pruned in summer and trimmed in the direction you require the tree to grow.

Remove any Leaves damaged during winter at the start of spring. If the tree is to be grown as a shrub, cut it back during the spring and summer months.

Apple Trees

Apple trees should be pruned between November and March. Remove around 10% - 30% evenly from the whole tree every year.

Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees don't need regular pruning. The pruning requirements depend upon the type of Magnolia tree you have in your garden.

Deciduous Trees

When planting your tree, make sure you remove any weak shoots.

Limit pruning to removing deadwood and water shoots. Any major pruning should be spread over several years because these types of trees can make a slow recovery.

Pruning should be undertaken from mid-summer to autumn because the sap can bleed out from the cuts.

Evergreen Trees

Young trees can have the lower branches removed if you require a certain shape. Trim back any long young branches. Prune freestanding trees in the spring, and trim highly trained trees in summer.

Wall Trained Trees

In the first year, new shoots should be tied at an angle of 45 degrees. After this, move them to a horizontal position in their second season.

Any shoots growing towards the wall should be removed. Cut outward growing shoots should be back to no more than two leaves. After flowering, prune immediately.

Cherry Trees

Prune Cherry trees in early spring to mid-summer. This will protect them from silver leaf disease. Prune lightly in early spring. Leave any heavy pruning until the summer months.

If you have an established tree, limit pruning to just removing problem branches, such as crossing, weak or diseased branches, limiting vertical growth.

Fig Trees

Figs are hardy plants that require pruning annually during winter; otherwise, they may bleed. Focus the pruning on creating an open structure.

You should remove older branches. Reduce cross aiming for an even structure to allow light to reach every branch.

Olive Trees

Olive trees shouldn't be pruned in their first four years of growth. You should prune the tree in late spring or early summer once the tree has reached maturity.

Prune to create an open structure that allowing light to evenly reach all the branches. It is best to make as few cuts as possible as it's less traumatic for the tree.

Pear Trees

Similar to pruning an apple tree, a Pear tree should ideally be pruned between November and March. It is best practice to remove around 10% - 30% of the tree's canopy each year evenly from the whole tree, not just the top.

Remove the older wood each year to encourage newer, better fruit-bearing wood to grow. You will need a structure open enough to allow light to reach all the branches for optimum growth.

Thin out any crowded areas, pruning midsized branches. You will want to minimise the cuts you make, but don't cut down any thick branches.

Lilac Trees

To keep Lilac trees flowering and avoid them growing too tall, regularly prune them from roughly two years of age.

When trimming a lilac, trim the whole stems rather than simply thinning the top. Remove around a third of the branches, and spent blooms should be removed at the stem.

Cutting away shoots near the ground allows for good air circulation to keep the plant healthy.

DIY Tree Trimming

If you can easily reach the branches of smaller trees which need pruning with a ladder, there is little reason not to prune your tree yourself.

As an example, fruit trees are easy to maintain, but large trees should be left to professionals. If done incorrectly, removing branches from taller trees is dangerous work not only for you but it could end up killing the tree.

Potential Problems and Pitfalls

Sometimes trees are trimmed for aesthetic reasons. Sometimes signs indicate your tree needs trimming for safety reasons and the health of the tree.

Broken Branches

Remove broken branches as soon as possible because a broken branch will gradually weaken until it drops. This can cause injury or damage to property and even death.

Misshapen Trees

Although a misshapen tree can look appealing, it can also be a sign of disease. The branches' weight can be unevenly distributed, leading to broken branches, which can cause injury for which you will be held liable.

Dead or diseased Limbs

These should be removed quickly as they are a safety risk. Diseased limbs should be removed to stop the disease spreading.

Dangerous Branch Growth

Remove any branches growing in dangerous locations. This applies to branches growing too close to power lines or over your house.

Any weak branches are also at risk of falling. Signs to look out for are leaf decolourisation. It is worth keeping a watchful eye on these branches as they could easily snap and fall, causing injury.

Abundant Growth

Without the need to compete for sunlight, trees will grow faster than is healthy. Trees that are planted without competition will grow very quickly and need trimming to prevent it getting too heavy for its own root system and will lack support.

Cracks Appearing in the Bark

Cracks in a tree's bark are a sign of disease or infestation. If untreated, the whole tree could die. Prune the affected branches as soon as possible to save the tree.

Dense Trees

If you can't see individual branches in your tree, then it has grown too dense and will need to be thinned. Trees like this can be dangerous as the internal branches can die through lack of sunlight. Dense trees can fall during storms, causing major damage, especially if they fall across roads.

Crossing Branches

If the branches on your tree cross, get it trimmed. Crossing branches that are unhealthy will often die and decay if left unchecked. It is best to prune them early before they grow too big.

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Sam J

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