How much does tree surgery cost in 2020?

The average cost of cutting down a multi-stemmed birch tree is £400 - £800

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Average cost
High cost
How much does tree surgery cost in 2020? graph showing high and low prices for cutting down birch tree

Things to consider

  • Do you require permission to cut down a tree?
  • Why would a tree need to be removed?
  • Can your tree be pruned or trimmed, rather than being removed?
  • Do you need the branches and twigs to be cleared away after the work is completed?

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Tree surgery – what you’re paying for


Trees often get overlooked when you’re thinking about garden maintenance. It’s all too easy to assume your trees and tall shrubs will simply remain sat where they are, healthy and in the same shape and size forever. The reality is that keeping trees healthy and trimmed back to a suitable size can be complicated and tricky work. A tree surgeon has the specialist knowledge and experience, so they’ll know how to handle different species and the specific issues that can trouble each tree. If you want to keep a tree but you think it’s dead, they can also assess it for you and advise on whether anything can be done or if it needs to be removed. Tree surgeons can assess the potential hazards posed by trees. For example, branches can get in the way of gutters, roads, roofs, and power lines. Following a bout of bad weather, a tree may also be left in a vulnerable state that could see it on the verge of falling, so it’s recommended that branches are cut back before storms hit. The felling of a tree and root management might sound like routine tasks, but they’re technical services that require the skills of a professional arborist. An experienced pro will be able to advise whether you’re allowed to remove a particular tree – there are strict regulations governing the felling of some trees. If there is no preservation order on a tree so you are able to fell it, the process involves consideration, planning and careful working practices to ensure it’s completed safely and effectively. Keep in mind that your tree surgeon should have public liability insurance. This protects against any potential damage caused to your property.

How much does it cost to cut down a tree?


The average cost of removing 2 multi-stemmed trees is £750. There are a range of factors that affect the price of a tree felling job. The first is the size of your trees. It will cost more to remove larger trees as they have more branches and that means heavy-duty equipment is probably required. Then there’s the location of the trees to consider. Trees that are near buildings or power lines demand more time and effort because your arborist can’t simply throw the branches down as they work. Instead, trimmed pieces need to be brought down by a climber, with rope tied around each branch. If you have no side access, then the tree may need to be carried through the house which will raise the price. The number of trees you need to have removed will also impact the overall cost of your job, as will the level of skill required to take the tree down safely. If it can easily be taken down in one you’ll pay less than if your tree surgeon is working in a tight area, making the job more tricky to complete. You’re paying an arborist for much more than just firing up their chainsaw and quickly chopping down a few trees. They’ll provide you with a considered and carefully planned service. Felling usually starts with assessing the surrounding area. Then the tree itself needs to be considered, along with the direction it should fall. Your tree surgeon will ensure the tree isn’t going to come crashing down onto anything or cause an obstruction. Safety is key, both for the tree surgeon and all objects or people nearby. Pruning comes next, where branches and twigs are removed to allow the trunk to fall smoothly. Surgeons will then check for diseases. Rotting trunks can create structural weaknesses that may lead to the tree falling in an unexpected direction. Then it’s the felling itself, and the technique and tools required depend on the size and type of tree in question. Finally, and the least glamorous part of the job, is clearing away the debris. You will pay more if you need your tree surgeon to remove the trunk and other clutter.

How much does it cost to prune a tree?


The average cost of pruning a large oak tree is £750. It’s best to prune trees during their dormant season – usually late winter. The skill of a professional tree surgeon lies in knowing how to prune a tree without causing serious damage to it. As a general rule, you don’t want to reduce a tree by more than 40% to keep the tree healthy, and the thicker the branch, the more difficult it is for the tree to recover if trimmed. If you only need the upper branches of a tree removed, a tree surgeon can do a spot of pollarding. This can be easier than reducing a tree, as they won’t have to make sure the tree is evened out after they’ve finished. Broadly speaking, the same factors influence the price of pruning as tree felling. So that means the size, location and number of trees will steer your bill. The only other consideration specific to pruning is the variety of each tree – a more diverse spread could require specialist, extensive work. Pruning helps keep trees healthy, meaning less work down the line. There’ll always be circumstances you can’t account for though. Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, snow, lighting strikes, and even dry spells can damage a tree and leave it unstable. Trees are also susceptible to disease and illness. This might mean you need to call on an arborist for pruning and trimming work at short notice. Just remember that urgent jobs might incur a higher fee – so discuss exactly what you’re paying for prior to booking your tree surgeon in for a consultation.

How much does wood chipping cost?


The average cost of hiring a tree surgeon to do wood chipping is £500 per day. Pruning, trimming and felling trees leaves you with a lot of wood, twigs, branches and leaves to clear up. Thankfully, most tree surgeons will have a wood chipper and can dispose of tree and shrub offcuts – either as part of the work you’ve booked them to do, or as a standalone service for an agreed fee. So, make sure you discuss whether wood chipping and disposal is included as part of the job you’re paying them to do. Alongside wood chipping, your arborist may remove tree stumps. Grinding is a cheaper option, but if you need to remove the stump it tends to be more expensive as it means negotiating different root systems. Some tree remnants will be harder to dig out too. Cherry trees, for example, require more complex treatment, as their roots are expansive. These stumps will take several hours to remove and that extra time adds to the overall bill.

Appendix – Costs

  Low Average High
General tree surgery costs
Removing 2 multi-stem trees £690 £750 £1,000
Removing 1 multi-stemmed birch tree £400 £550 £800
Removing 1 large oak tree £2,000 £3,000 £4,000
Crown reduction £150 £275 £400
Trim or prune an oak tree £600 £750 £800
Miscellaneous tree surgery costs
General tree work (team of 3) per hour £150 £170 £200
Daily rates of 1–2 tree surgeons £325 £425 £550
Tree survey £150 £300 £450
Wood chippering (1 day) £300 £500 £700
Grinding stumps £85 £120 £200
Garden clearance per day £200 £325 £400
Hedge trimming per hour £75 £85 £100

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