Tree trimming involves understanding tree biology, recognizing the plant flaws, and skillfully trimming the tree to eliminate flaws and defects without causing irreparable damages or hindering the tree growth. To make sure their trees are trimmed properly, most homeowners prefer to use professional tree service providers. While this involves dealing with tree trimming costs, it helps tree owners ensure that a good job is done while avoiding injury risks.
If you are thinking of trimming your trees, understanding the tree trimming costs to expect can help you prepare yourself financially. In this guide, we will look at the average tree trimming cost in Austin. We will also look at the factors that often affect this cost – this should make it much easier for you to estimate the prices you should expect to pay.
Tree Trimming Cost Factors
On average, Austin residents spend between $75 and $1,000 on the tree trimming, depending on various factors. For example, while a homeowner with a healthy medium-sized tree may pay $150 for the trimming, he/she may have to pay more than $200 for the same tree if it has health issues, pests, or potential hazards to his/her property. The factors that play into the total tree trimming cost include:
Bigger trees have a higher trimming cost than smaller trees. This is understandable considering that the bigger trees have more branches and may require special or additional equipment depending on their height. Below, we have outlined the prices you may expect to pay depending on the tree size:
- 30 feet and below – Trees whose height doesn’t exceed 30 feet – for example, dogwood or Russian olive – often cost $75 – $450 to trim.
- 30 feet to 60 feet – Trees falling in this range – for example, crab apple trees – cost anywhere from $150 to $875 to trim.
- 60 feet and above – If your trees are over 60 feet tall, you should expect to spend approximately $200 to $1,000 or more to trim them. Trees that usually fall in this height range include pine and red oak.
Trees growing too close to power lines or buildings often require additional effort and time because the tree trimmers cannot simply toss the limbs down as they work. Instead, the branches will have to be lowered down slowly using a rope. Compared to trees in open fields, trees located near utilities will have a higher tree trimming cost.
Number of Trees
The number of trees you intend to have trimmed will naturally affect the total tree trimming cost. When requesting a quote, it is extremely important that you include the number of trees – this will help you make your decision based on a more realistic estimate. You wouldn’t want to surprise the tree trimming company when they arrive on your property by suddenly revealing that you have 5 trees that need trimming instead of 1 tree.
If your tree has undergone a trauma recently – say, a lightning strike – it may not be as strong as a healthy tree would be. Over time, the tree can become unstable.
For this reason, most unhealthy trees require more than a simple trim. For example, if the tree is unstable, cabling may be necessary to ensure that the tree does not fall on your property or house. While it could cost you extra money to trim a tree that has some scarring, the result will be a healthier and safer tree.
Disease and Illnesses
There is a wide range of illnesses and diseases that may decrease the overall tree health. Some of the health complications that may affect a tree and lead to a higher tree trimming cost include:
- Abiotic damage – Often resulting from dry spells, frost, hail, and strong winds, abiotic damage is usually characterized by broken/cracked limbs and dried leaves. Fixing this damage helps reduce the chances of pest infestation as most pests prefer to attack damaged tree areas.
- Fungi/mushrooms – In addition to diminishing the tree’s structural stability, fungi deplete the tree’s important nutrients.
- Moist crack – Moist cracks in the tree trunk indicate internal decay and should be evaluated to figure out if the tree’s life is in danger.
While most trees do harbor a large number of harmless and sometimes beneficial insects, some pests can endanger or even cause irreparable tree damage. This type of infestation often leads to tree illness, such as fungal growth or rotting.
Some of the pests that often affect tree health include:
- Emerald ash borer – A serious hazard to homes with ash trees, this pest has to be eliminated as soon as possible to make sure that it does not kill the ash trees.
- Ants – Ants usually indicate that a tree has foothold damage or is rotting. A combination of ants on the base of the tree and sawdust coming out of the tree trunk are an indicator of damage.
- Mites – Although very small, mites feature strong suction capabilities – they can easily weaken any tree.
- Shield-lice – Also really tiny, shield-lice becomes noticeable when it forms a shield-like spot on the bark of a tree with its waxy secretion. These pests often attack leaves. In extreme cases, they will need expert attention.
- Wood destroying insects – The larva of various insect species can easily breed in the wood. This may lead to the wood core and bark damage, making it much easier for fungi to invade.
- Woodpeckers – Woodpeckers tend to seek a home on trees that are rotting due to fungal decay. If you find a woodpecker on your tree, you should seek professional help as soon as possible.
In Austin, most tree service providers often charge some fees for the drive time. The fees usually go up as the traveling distance increases. To minimize the travel costs, you should hire a local company – for example, if you are an Austin resident, consider working with a service provider located in Austin.
Austin tree trimming companies have bucket trucks that make it much easier for them to reach the top of any tree. If the tree is located in any area featuring limited space for this truck, the trimmer will have to climb to the top – this will result in a higher tree trimming cost.
For example, clearing dead wood from an oak tree featuring a height of 80 feet will cost you approximately $1,050 when using a bucket. However, if a climber has to go up the tree, the cost can go up to $1,400.
Do It Yourself (DIY) or Hire a Professional?
Turning tree trimming into a DIY project can be tempting and, in some cases, doing this can be both safe and reasonable. However, if you fail to take the right precautions or lack the right equipment, the DIY project can easily become a hazardous and sometimes a deadly venture.
In the case of trees taller than 60 feet, it is recommended that you work with a professional. When deciding whether to work with a professional when trimming the shorter trees, here are some of the things you will need to consider:
Any tree trimming company in Austin will have all the materials and equipment needed to complete the trimming safely. Unless you have trimmed trees before, there is a possibility that you will have to purchase tree trimming equipment before you can turn tree trimming into a DIY project.
A simple trimming job may require loppers and hand-held pruners – these will cost you approximately $40 to $50. To get the job done more efficiently, you may need a gas pole pruner – this will cost you approximately $180.
For bigger jobs, a heavy-duty gas trimmer may be necessary. You may need a helmet and safety goggles to protect your eyes and head. To keep your hands safe, you may need to invest in gloves.
In tree trimming, safety risks are generally high, especially when you are working on taller trees. If you have to climb the tree, unless you have a safety harness, you will be risking falling and injuring yourself. Pruners are usually sharp and unless you take the necessary precautions to be safe, you may end up cutting yourself.
Where the branches fall is not always in the trimmers control. There is always the possibility of the branches falling in unexpected directions – this can cause damage to your property or serious injuries to those on the ground.
If your tree is located near a power line, it is crucial that you avoid trimming it alone. This is because you will have to lower the branches down slowly to avoid messing with the power lines.
Tips and Techniques
If you decide to trim the trees in your home yourself, you should keep the following techniques and tips in mind:
Tree Trimming Tips
Trim the Tree During the Dormant Season
While it’s possible to trim trees at any time of the year, it is extremely important that you trim any tree during its dormant period. This will make it much easier for you to see what you are doing. Additionally, getting rid of the dormant buds will help invigorate the remaining buds.
The only exception to this rule is when you are trying to slow down the growth of a very vigorous tree. In that case, you will need to trim the tree while it is in its active growth cycle.
Consider Branch Size
Before removing a branch, consider its size. Branches featuring a diameter of 5 cm and below can be removed. Removal of branches with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm is less ideal. Any branch over 10 cm should only be trimmed when it is absolutely necessary.
Check the Branch Angle
Remove branches featuring weak, v-shaped angles. Allow branches featuring strong u-shaped angles to remain on the tree.
When trimming any tree, you should aim for a ratio of the living crown to the tree height of about two-thirds.
Trim Young Branches
You should trim the tree regularly to ensure that you are only trimming young branches. As the branches grow older, the scarring risk increases. Compared to older branches, the young branches are generally much easier to manage.
Avoid Trimming Too Long or Too Short
During trimming, avoid leaving a huge stub or removing the branch’s collar.
Before you initiate cutting, locate the point where the branch collar grows from the tree’s stem tissue. You should find this point at the branch’s base. Next, locate the branch ridge – this will be available on the upper surface, parallel to the branch’s angle on the stem.
Make the Cut
You should make the cut outside the bark’s ridge. Be sure to angle the cut away from the stem and down. Try as much as possible to avoid injuring the collar. This technique works perfectly for both living and dead branches.
For long stems, the 3-cut technique works best. First, you should make a notch that is facing away from the branch that you wish to retain. Next, make a second cut inside the crotch of the branch, above the branch ridge. Finally, get rid of the stub by cutting through the stem, parallel to the branch’s bark ridge.
Pruning Versus Trimming
While most tree owners use the terms “pruning” and “trimming” interchangeably, they are 2 different methods of ensuring trees stay healthy.
Trimming is generally done for convenience and aesthetics. It is performed when concerns of overgrowth, pests, diseases, or other hazards to the tree are non-existent. By getting rid of branches that can get in the way, trimming helps improve the appearance of a tree.
In the case of multiple or large trees, trimming can be handled by professionals. In the case of small trees or when the tree owner is looking to do some minor trimming – for example, tidying up the look of the tree – one can turn the trimming into a DIY project.
Pruning is done to ensure the trees stay healthy and it usually involves removing different parts of a tree selectively. Parts often removed during pruning include roots, branches, and buds.
Pruning usually targets parts of a tree that are diseased, dead, structurally unsound, unwanted, or damaged. Pruning is best left to professionals who can easily recognize diseased and damaged tissue and make sure that only the healthy buds, roots, and branches are left on the tree.
Saving Money on Tree Trimming
To spend a minimum amount of money on tree trimming, you can use the following tips:
- If your tree is close to power lines, the utility company will come out and trim these trees for free considering that this is a safety issue. Generally, the utility companies have well-trained personnel and better equipment.
- Conducting routine maintenance can help you avoid expensive maintenance operations later. Regular trimming can help you prevent paying high tree trimming cost.
- When you notice an issue with a tree, you should take quick action instead of waiting for further damage. Try to avoid waiting for a problem to get worse before you attempt to fix it.
- Watering your trees will help keep them healthy. As noted earlier, healthy trees cost much less to trim compared to trees featuring health issues. Adding mulch to the tree base should help you preserve the root moisture and hence helping you reduce the frequency at which you water the trees.