A routine maintenance practice for many types of trees, tree trimming is generally used by homeowners to improve the aesthetic appeal and enhance the accessibility of their property. The tree maintenance practice carries various risks, including, the possibility of falling from the tree crown or dropping cut branches on important utilities leading to damage.
The easiest way to avoid these risks is to work with professionals who have years of experience in the trimming business, have modern trimming gear, and understand how to handle trees in complicated areas. Professionals, however, do require homeowners to pay some fee for their expert service.
To help you plan your trimming project, this detailed guide will show you the average tree trimming cost. We will also take a deeper look at the various factors that may drive the cost up or down.
Average Tree Trimming Cost in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, homeowners pay an average of $80 to $350 to trim a single tree. For a healthy, medium-sized tree, you may be charged $150, in comparison to $250 if the same tree was hazardous, full of pests, or diseased.
For big trees such as oaks and pines, property owners spend $300 to $1000 on the trimming. If your tree needs to be trimmed by climbers instead of a bucket truck, you may end up spending 30% to 40% more.
Factors Affecting the Tree Trimming Cost in Philadelphia
1. Tree Height
As you would expect, taller trees cost more to trim than smaller trees. Not only does the tree size determine the number of branches a tree will have, but large trees also need additional equipment.
Shaping large trees generally takes more time considering that the tree trimmers will have to cut through bigger branches on bigger tree crowns. Also, the fact that they will be operating at a bigger distance from the ground increases the risk, often forcing them to use more advanced safety tools to minimize the possibility of falling.
Below, we have outlined the tree trimming cost to expect for trees of varying sizes:
- Under 30 feet – These are the smallest trees in Philadelphia. If your tree has a height of below 30 feet, expect to pay between $80 and $400 to trim it.
- 30 to 60 – More (and bigger) branches are generally removed when trimming trees taller than 30 feet but shorter than 60 feet. These medium-sized trees will cost you $150 to $875 to trim.
- Over 60 feet – Large trees in Philadelphia include red oaks and pines. To trim each tree that fits in this height category, you will need to set aside $200 to $1000 depending on how complicated the procedure is.
Most tree trimmers make their work easier using bucket trucks. Instead of spending their time climbing up the tree manually, professionals will just get in the truck’s bucket and get raised to the point where they need to do the cuts. In addition to making the entire process easy, the bucket truck makes things faster and safer.
Bucket trucks, however, aren’t always usable. For example, if the tree that needs pruning is surrounded by other trees with no space to pack the bucket truck, someone will have to climb your tree manually to reach the crown.
If a bucket truck cannot be used – and someone has to climb your tree – this could add 30% to 40% to the quoted cost. For example, if the cost of trimming a tree with a bucket truck was quoted at $1000, you may be charged $1,300 to $1400 if a bucket truck cannot be used.
3. Proximity to Utilities
If a large tree is close to powerlines or your homes, the cut branches cannot be tossed down with ease. Doing this will increase the probability of hitting the utility lines and causing power outages or hitting your house’s roof and causing damages worth thousands of dollars.
To avoid this, the branches to be cut are tied with ropes and then lowered down slowly, directing them away from the utilities. This process takes longer and may need more complicated machinery, which leads to a higher tree trimming cost.
4. Tree Health and Stability
Numerous variables can make a tree weaken over time. For example, if the tree is unhealthy or was struck by a lightning recently, it won’t be as stable as it once was. In such a case, minor trims may not be sufficient.
If there is the risk that the tree could fall on your home, a busy road, or someone’s utility lines, more significant measures may need to be taken to prevent this. For instance, an unstable tree may need to be cabled. While this may force you to spend more money, it will result in a much safer and healthier tree.
Similarly, your tree may have an illness that impacts its overall health. In turn, this can influence the cost to trim and maintain the tree. Below, we have outlined some examples:
- Fungi – Fungi can destroy most of your trees quickly. Depleting the tree’s vital nutrients, they often compromise the tree’s structural stability.
- Large cracks – If you find a moist crack on your tree’s trunk, this could be an indicator that your tree is suffering from internal decay. In this case, the life of the tree might be in jeopardy. You should contact a professional immediately if you notice a deep crack, a crack that is in contact with another defect, or a large cracked branch.
- Weather damage – This damage results from weather variables, including strong winds, dry spells, frost, and hail. If you notice cracked limbs or dried leaves, you must tend to the area as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem could encourage parasites to attack the damage, eventually leading to the death of the tree.
It is worth noting that to boost your tree’s health after trimming, you may have to work with a professional arborist. The arborist will help you determine the health complication bothering your tree and the medications you need to purchase for treatment. The cost of the arborist service and the cost of medications can add $50 to $500 to the tree trimming cost, depending on how severe the health problem is.
5. Travel Fees
Tree service providers in Philadelphia have predefined zones in which they offer their services without charging a travel fee. For this reason, the easiest way to avoid spending money on the service fee is to work with professionals closest to your home – this will automatically put you in their service zone, eliminating the travel fee.
If, however, you prefer to work with a tree service provider living a significant distance from your home, you should be prepared to pay $0.5 per mile covered outside their service zone. Depending on the distance covered to get to your home, this can add up to $50 to $200.
6. Number of Trees
When trimming a single tree, professionals generally charge a higher tree trimming cost than when trimming several trees of the same size at the same time. The higher cost is generally because of several fixed costs, including overhead costs, fuel prices, and the cost of permits and licenses.
To give you an example, trimming one 60-foot tree may be quoted at $500. However, trimming 10 trees of the same size could cost you a total of $4500. This means that you end up paying $50 less for each tree. To take advantage of the bulk trimming discount, you should trim multiple trees at the same time.
DIY Tree Trimming
Tree trimming is an expense, and some people may try to save some money by turning the procedure into a DIY project. It is, however, worth noting that tree trimming can be risky, especially when working on tall trees or near utility lines and important structures.
For this reason, you should handle DIY trimming on small, non-risky trees. This will help you avoid damaging your home or suffering significant injuries from falling.
Below, we have outlined the tips to keep in mind when trimming a tree:
- Look for V-shaped angles – If a branch forms a strong U-shaped angle with the trunk, this typically means it is strong and should be left on the tree. In comparison, branches forming V-shaped angles are usually weak.
- Consider branch size – Generally, branches that are 5 cm or less in diameter can be removed. However, as the size of the branches increases, you should consider your options. Any branch whose diameter exceeds 10 cm should only be removed if it is necessary – for example, to improve health and safety.
- Trim trees in the dormant stage – Although you can technically trim the trees during any season, trimming them in the dormant season allows you a better view of the branches that should be removed.
- Consider how much you trim – Avoid cutting the tree’s branches too short or leaving them too long. In terms of the overall ratio, by the time you finish trimming, the ratio of your tree’s living crown to the height of the tree should be approximately two-thirds.