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Tree Surgeon Costs

Overgrown trees can be a common problem, casting gardens into darkness or shedding too many leaves. Further to cosmetic issues, if trees are too close to your house they can affect your property’s foundations if left to grow, causing expensive damage. Your neighbours might have complained about your garden’s trees getting too big, or you might think that they’ve just become unsightly and you want them removed to clear the space for something else. Whatever your reason, when it comes to pruning or felling trees, it’s important to know how to do the job properly and safely. This article will cover how much tree surgeons charge, what impacts the cost of hiring a tree surgeon, how you can save money on hiring a tree surgeon, how to know if you need a tree surgeon in the first place, what’s involved in removing the tree, what the laws and regulations are on tree removal and how to find and hire a tree surgeon. Keep reading to find out how to get help in the most cost-effective way possible.

How Much Do Tree Surgeons Charge?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to tree surgeon pricing. Depending on the type of job, and the experience required to complete it, the costs can vary.

For instance, removing something invasive and fast-growing as Japanese knotweed will take much longer than your average small tree removal. Here are some estimated costs and the time required to complete them:
Small tree removal £400 to £500 Couple of hours to half a day
Medium tree removal £750 Half a day
Large tree removal £3,000 Half a day to a full day
Tree pruning £400 Dependant on size of tree
Tree lopping £400 Dependant on size of tree
Removing felled branches £50 to £150 Dependant on size of tree
Tree survey and report £200 to £300, depending on number of trees and level of detail Within two weeks, dependant on lead times
Wood chipper hire Starting at £100, depending on size required Per day
Stump grinding or removal £50 to £200, depending on width and type of tree Dependant on width and type of tree
Hedge trimming £40 to £60 per person, per hour Dependant on hedge size
Hedge removal £100 to £150 per day Dependant on hedge size
Ivy removal From £350 2 hours
Japanese knotweed removal £1,000 to £1,500 Three to four sessions
Garden clearance £200 per person, per day Dependant on garden size

It’s important to note that tree surgeons may have a minimum call-out charge of around £400, which will be further to the estimated costs in the table above.

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What Impacts the Cost of Hiring a Tree Surgeon?

Tree removal is a bespoke process, and the following attributes need to be considered before embarking on a job.

Tree Height

As is the case with most jobs, the larger the tree, the higher the cost of removal. Taller trees require extra equipment hire such as cherry pickers to reach the top, all of which will add more expense to your quote. When calculating the cost of tree removal, surgeons will take into consideration the height, width and lean of the tree.


Tree surgeon prices may vary according to the species of tree you own. For example, a small multi-stemmed birch tree is a simple variety to prune. Something like a large oak tree over 100 feet tall will need a team of five to fell, including two professional tree surgeons.


Whether or not your tree is healthy, diseased or damaged will impact the cost of removal. For damaged trees, the process is considerably less straightforward than felling a healthy tree, as cracks or broken branches can fall unpredictably, which requires more labour time and calculations. For diseased trees, the handling needs extra caution so that the disease doesn’t spread to nearby trees.


If the tree is in your garden with good access, it’ll take the tree surgeon less time to remove than if it’s overhanging a public footpath, as it’s simpler to cordon off areas in a private space. However, if the tree is standing near power lines, this can add considerable time to your job – and together with a damaged or diseased tree, this can command a much higher price than a healthy tree. Tree surgeons can also charge a premium if any of the branches on your tree overhang a public road or footpath. They’ll have to take extra care when working, and they may need to temporarily block off a road or footpath so they can work safely.

Stump and Root Removal

You may be happy to leave a stump in place after tree removal if it’s in an area that will allow for it – you could even make it into a seating area. But, if you want the entire stump and accompanying roots removed for a variety of reasons – be that a diseased tree, or obstructing a pathway – this again will be an added factor of your quote. If you want the stump and roots removed, you may have to pay an additional fee for waste removal. Many tree surgeons charge extra for chipping the branches and trunk.

How Can I Save Money on Hiring a Tree Surgeon?

Doing as much preparatory work yourself will save you from paying a premium. Things like clearing out any garden waste that may get in the way, moving garden furniture and removing any fallen debris can help. While felling, you can offer to remove the branches yourself. It is a labour-intensive job, but if you have the time to spare it can save you money in the long run. If the roots aren’t likely to be causing any problems for you once the tree has been removed, opting for stump grinding rather than removal can be a cost-effective way of trimming down your removal costs. Whereas stump removal eradicates both the stump and all of the tree’s roots; grinding will cut out the main root plate, but leave a considerable amount of sawdust in its place, as well as a few roots in the ground which will eventually rot away over time. Finally, comparing quotes is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most cost-effective tradesman for your job, which you can do through using HouseholdQuotes.
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How Do I Know if I Need a Tree Surgeon?

Though tree felling can be something you can do yourself, for anything more than a small tree, it’s often best to call in professional tree surgeons.

The larger the tree, the harder and more dangerous it will be to remove. It’s important to assess whether you have the skills, experience and tools to do the job properly. Trees close to houses and in difficult to reach places will increase the risks of something going wrong. You should consider the effects on home insurance if you try to fell the tree yourself, and end up causing damage to your property. Below are the main reasons why you might need the help of a hired tree surgeon to complete your garden work.

Damaged Tree

In situations where a storm has badly damaged a tree and caused it to break or bend over a road, path or encroach on a house, it’s necessary to have the tree looked at to ascertain if it needs removing. Similarly, if there is significant damage to the trunk of the tree, this can compromise stability and might be cause for removal. Bark inclusions are also a cause for concern, as they usually indicate a dying tree. These can be identified by the presence of dark areas at the top of a split.

Diseased Tree

If a tree has dead branches, discoloured leaves or an uneven shape, it could be a sign that the tree is diseased. Trees can also succumb to dry rot and fungus which can attack the bark and kill the tree entirely. If a tree becomes ‘wounded’ by a storm, cattle, or a car crashing into it, it can begin the decaying process by opening up gaps for fungus to grow. One of the first signs of tree rot comes from conks, or tree bracket fungus. These fungi will continue to live for as long as the host stays alive, so if the infected tree has started to rot, this will be expedited and needs investigation from a professional to assess the damage.

Infested Tree

Common in the US, Emerald Ash Borer is a type of beetle that feeds off ash tree hosts, eventually leading to its death as the natural nutrient supply to the tree has been compromised.

Although thankfully not yet present in the UK, there are other types of infestations to look out for in trees.

Housekeeping Healthy Trees

It’s not always unhealthy or damaged trees that need attention – sometimes perfectly healthy trees need a little bit of care and attention to keep them in good condition during their lifespan. Tree maintenance can also help to detect issues before they become larger problems.

What’s Involved in Removing a Tree?

If you’ve decided on removal, there are a few steps involved to make sure the practice is safe for both your tree surgeon and you – and anyone else in the surrounding area who might be affected by the felling. The tree surgeon will conduct a survey to see if any parts of the tree are damaged or weakened. This will allow them to determine:
  • Tree species
  • Tree age
  • Measurements
  • Health
  • Tree lean
  • Obstacles or hazards
Based on this survey, the surgeon can plan the best way to safely fell the tree and see if any specialist equipment such as cherry pickers or cranes are required. If the tree is in an open area where there’s no chance of causing any property or garden damage, then the tree can be straight felled. Straight felling begins by:
  • Using a chainsaw, the tree surgeon will make a series of small, precise cuts towards the base of the tree
  • A wedge will then be placed inside the trunk to guide the tree so it falls in the correct direction
  • A final cut is then made to drive the wedge further into the trunk to encourage the tree to fall
  • At the same time, other members of the team will guide the tree down using ropes, cables, or slings
If the tree can’t be straight felled, it can be felled in sections:
  • Careful dismantling of the tree, one section at a time, using loppers or a saw. If the tree is quite large, the surgeon may need to use a ladder or ropes and a harness to access the upper branches
  • If you’ve chosen to remove the stump, the tree surgeon will then grind the stump, or apply chemicals to soften the stump until it can be easily removed
  • The team will then clear away waste

What Are the Laws and Regulations on Trees?

The Arboricultural Association say that “the safety of trees is nearly always the responsibility of the owner of the land on which they grow”, which means if you know of a potentially dangerous or infected tree on your grounds, you need to get it seen to in case it causes physical or human damage.

Dangerous Trees

As mentioned before, if you know of a dangerous tree that’s on your ground, it’s your responsibility to make sure it doesn’t compromise people’s safety.

Overhanging Trees and Encroaching Roots

Although best practice is to speak to your neighbour, it’s allowable to prune branches that fall over into your property’s boundary without the owner’s say so. But with this comes a caveat: you have a legal duty to take reasonable care while cutting down and you will be culpable if you cause any damage.

It’s best to keep communication in written formats to refer to as evidence if repeated requests to a neighbour go unheard if their overhanging tree or encroaching roots end up causing structural damage to your property.

Tree Preservation Orders

Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are in place to protect trees that offer ‘significant amenity benefit’ to the area. Much like listed buildings, it is a criminal offence to pull down any trees marked with TPOs. However, if a tree with a TPO has become unstable, dangerous or infected, you can make an application to have it removed by submitting a request to your local planning authority (LPO).

Conservation Areas

For large trees, you must give six weeks’ notice before any work is scheduled to start in a conservation area. Fortunately, you don’t need to notify anyone if your tree measures less than 7.5 centimetres in diameter (when measuring 1.5 metres above ground).

Restrictive Covenants

A covenant is a formal agreement between two parties – in the case of a restrictive covenant, it’s a promise that certain things will not happen in certain areas of land. Covenants withstand their owners, meaning when land is sold on, the agreement still stands. This means that any changes will need the go-ahead from a third party, which is where a solicitor can help.

Planning Conditions

Planning conditions are put in place to ensure nothing happens to the green space during a building development for a set amount of time during the building and after completion. To change these terms, parties must contact their local planning authority to gain approval.

How Do I Find and Hire a Tree Surgeon?

The tree felling sector is notorious for having overinflated quotes, so make sure you do your homework and get at least three quotes – if not more. For tried-and-tested surgeons, first seek recommendations from family, friends and neighbours as they’ll be able to give you the reality of working with a certain set of tradespeople, and whether or not to go with them.

It’s a good idea to research local tree felling companies properly and ensure you get quotes from legitimate companies. Local nurseries and horticultural colleges can also be good places to ask for advice.

If searching online, using HouseholdQuotes can help to save you up to 40% when comparing quotes from like-for-like tradespeople, which can save you from paying more than you need to for tree surgery.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit

It’s important to be thorough before starting a tree felling project to ensure everything you presume to be included in your quote is in actuality. For example, will your contractors take the felled tree away? Will they grind up the stump, or leave it untouched? If there’s poor access to the tree, can you get a reduced cost if you clear a route for the surgeons such as by taking down fence panels? Asking for a written quote is a right of passage. It acts as something concrete and binding to refer to if things get convoluted in person, and can be used as a point of reference when comparing quotes from other tradespeople. It’s essential to ask for a tree surgeon’s experience. There is a high level of skill needed to complete the job safely, and some trees are trickier than others – for instance, a straight felling project versus a section felling on a damaged tree. You should also seek out references for their past work to find out what their work ethic is like as well as their actual ability to make sure their personality is a good match. Due to the dangerous nature of felling, it’s important for surgeons to have insurance, such as employer’s liability and public liability, recommended for a minimum of £5 million. Although being a member of an association doesn’t ensure their working standards, it does show professionalism, so finding out if the surgeon is part of one is good to ask. Surgeons must have NPTC/Lantra Awards for chainsaw use, while it’s recommended that they carry further qualifications such as National Certificates and Diplomas in Arboriculture. All tree surgeons should follow BS 3398 (2010) standards on Recommendations for Tree Work.

Finally, you can avoid rogue traders by asking for proof of qualifications.

Final Checklist

If you’ve found a tree you suspect is infected, infested, or badly damaged, it’s best practice to get a surgeon in to assess the potential for nearby damage or spread of disease. Here’s our final checklist when removing or pruning trees:
  • Start searching for a tree surgeon to carry out your work
  • Remember to ask lots of questions: their qualifications, if they have insurance and the compulsory awards for chainsaw use
  • Have the professional visit you to carry out a tree survey to ascertain the damage (if any), and scope out the work needed to rectify problems – be that tree removal or pruning overhanging branches
  • The surgeon will then be able to straight fell, or fell in sections, depending on the lean of the tree, any structural damage or nearby obstructions
  • Removal of the tree stump, and removal of the tree’s wastage – if agreed beforehand.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Tree Survey First?

If you’re planning to remove the tree, yes. It’s always best to cover all bases before starting any work to make sure you’re not unintentionally removing a tree from a restricted area, or if the tree has a TPO. Tree surveys can also be helpful if you’re planning an extension, a new shed or outbuilding, or landscaping.

Can I Remove a Tree Myself?

If you have a small tree, where the trunk is less than 18 inches across, you can remove it yourself – as long as you don’t live in a conservation area and the tree doesn’t have a TPO. For safety reasons, always hire a professional to remove medium or large trees, any tree that overhangs a structure or a public footpath, near power or telephone cables.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Remove a Tree?

It’s best to remove trees when they are in their dormant phase if you can afford the time to wait. If a tree is badly storm-damaged, it’s best to get it removed as quickly as possible, regardless of the season, because of the immediate threat to physical structures and life.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune My Tree?

Similarly, pruning in late autumn or winter is best as the tree’s wounds will heal quickly during the spring when it’s growing again. If you try to prune during the spring growth spurt, this can make the tree stressed while trying to grow and heal at the same time.

Can I Keep the Wood Chippings and Use Them in My Garden?

Tree removal isn’t always included in surgeon’s quotes, and if you can find a use for the offcuts it’s a great way of cutting down prices. You can use felled branches for firewood, or use the chippings for general garden use if desired.  
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