Getting The Best Price On Tree Lopping

Most people know that Arborists are the ‘tree specialists’ to speak to when getting a tree pruned or removed, the problem is they can charge like a wounded bull. Gardeners, on the other hand, are quite skilled in tree care, but come at a fraction of the cost.

But Why?
Arborists charge more because they are more specialized. If you have a very large or dangerous tree that needs pruning or removing, they are without a doubt, the ones to go to. For anything smaller than a single story house, for example, can be managed by a gardener. Making this distinction can save you hundreds straight off the bat.

So Why Do Arborist Charge So Much?
Some customers who get a quote for tree work on their property, are shocked by what it costs to remove or even just prune a medium to large tree. It's important to understand the process and the industry to know why there are being charged so much.

Arborists are professionals who have spent between 2 and 4 years in tertiary refining their skills and knowledge to be able to advise homeowners, local councils, schools and sometimes even national parks and wildlife on how to manage trees. They also have the skills to prune or remove problem trees. They scale these tree in a safe way without ladders, but by using ropes and harnesses.

Suburban tree lopping is the second most dangerous industry after mining. If you look at the statistics from the view of a number of deaths per 1000 workers then it's actually 3 x more dangerous than mining!

You’re not actually paying 'danger money' for an arborist. The expense for arborist that need to be passed onto the customer come in 2 forms; the cost of machinery and a small crew needed to assist in carrying out the job, plus the amount of money it cost them [the arborist] in insurance to operate.


The Crew
On site, you need a minimum of 3 workers, 1 up the tree and 2 crew on the ground to assist. The ground crew is known in the industry as 'groundies'.

As a part of the crew, you need 3 professional chainsaws which range in price from $1200 - $5000 and a truck and chipper to mulch up and transport the debris. The minimum you would pay for a small truck and chipper combination second hand would be $50k – $250k.
Unfortunately, these costs need to be passed onto the customer.

There are 2 types of insurance needed to run a tree business. They are public liability insurance of between 5 and 10 million and also workers compensation cover.

As mentioned earlier, this is one of the most dangerous industries, so you can imagine the premiums are high. Workers compensation alone has a business paying 9% on top of wages to keep workers covered on-site. Public liability cover varies but is also quite expensive.

How To Save Money
So, now you know why Arborists are so expensive. And you have also determined that your tree does indeed need an arborist to prune or remove it.

Here are the 3 factors that will determine price, and what you can do to try and reduce the quoted price:

1. Tree size/ Spread
2. Access
3. Room to work
Tree Size

This is an obvious one and there is little you can do to change it. The bigger the tree and the more timber there is, the more work it takes the remove i.e. heftier prices.

One way of saving money is to ask the arborist to bring the tree down to the ground safely and you can then hire a chainsaw to cut it up yourself. In the end, it might end up costing you more as commercial waste centres now charge a fortune to dump green waste.

So get all your facts straight first. Maybe get a quote for the complete job and one to get the tree safely on the ground. That way you can weigh up the cost of removing the waste yourself and seeing whether it's worth the trouble.

Same goes with asking them to cut logs up into firewood size pieces. Depending on the access it may or may not affect the price. If the tree is in a backyard with tight access, this can save you hundreds, as the contractors don’t have to lug scores of timber logs to the truck parked on the street.

If the tree is in the front yard and close to their machinery, it could just mean more work for the arborist, so make sure you ask first.
That being said, having free firewood (which can cost over $100 per cubic meter) to heat your home for the next 12 months might be worth the extra cost.

Basically, the closer the tree is to the truck the cheaper the cost of removal will be. So if it's in the front yard, with a nice wide driveway you’re in luck! If it's in the backyard, you may need to think of ways to make access easier for the contractors. Maybe you can chat with your neighbour and get access through their rear-access-driveway and pull down part of the fence to make things easier?
Anything you can do to make access better, the cheaper the quote will be.

Room to Work
This is just as important as access. If there is a minefield of things below the tree that can be damaged including ornamental plants, garden tap, pot plants, or a nicely manicured lawn, depending on the tree itself, this could turn into a longer process to get the tree down safely hence a larger quote for the job.

Basically, at the end of the day, you need to make the job as easy and straight forward as you can for the arborist. Time is money so if you can save them time they will save you money.

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