Prices of Tree Work – How Much ??!!

Something I often hear, and get pretty tired of. The following is an extract of a Mumsnet discussion of one Mum complaining that £150/- was a lot to pay for a tree removal, that I copied and am reposting here, because this guy was spot on, and I could not have written it better myself. Unfortunately I do not know who he is, except that he calls himself “tree contractor” on his post. If I did, I would credit him. I hope that if he sees this he does not mind, as we both face the same issues as professional arborists, and I am of the same opinion as him.


“Regarding the first post – £150 sounds very reasonable (or too cheap!) indeed and I suspect that the price was this low purely due to the recession as tree surgeons are having a hard time of it! Some of the first things to be hit in a recession is construction and tree surgery. Domestic customers are more than happy to leave work untreated for an additional year through hard times.

Having worked in the tree surgery industry and worked alongside expert arborists like my brother, it sometimes saddens me when people grumble at the prices of tree work.
Tree surgery is renowned for being in the top 5 most dangerous jobs alongside oil rigging, trawler fishing, firefighting etc. It is a profession hugely reliant on trained experts in the field.
Of course there are unqualified people out there who DO under charge, who DO NOT have any qualifications but may have dabbled as a groundsman and picked things up. There are people who DO fly tip as they do not have the correct resources and should NOT be working in the field of tree surgery. These people cast a dark shadow on the reputation of tree surgeon tradesmen and bring notoriety to the tree surgery trade.
In defense of the prices that true, recommended, qualified, fully insured, reputable and reliable tree surgeon will charge it is worthwhile taking into consideration the costs a professional tree surgeon has just to run the business before profits.
First of all equipment-
A professional tree surgeon never skimps on kit!
First of all PPE – Harnesses, spikes, chainsaw boots, chainsaw pants, chainsaw gloves, helmets, visors, ear protectors (this is all per person!)
Ropes – Various kinds of ropes used for different purposes, ropes for climbing ( times this by the number of tree surgeons on site!) ropes for felling, specially designed ropes for lowering and sectional dismantle, karabiners, slings, pulleys etc etc
Next – Machinery! various chainsaws – lots of them! Chainsaws for climbing, chainsaws for felling, spare blades, spare chains, chain files, body spares etc etc
Hedge Trimmers, trimmer extensions, blowers, suckers, poles and saw blades (to with stand amps on high voltage cables, not cheap!), pruner heads
and then some-
Van/tipper big enough for site clearance £5,000 + for a decent one
Woodchippers – £15,000+ each
Stumpgrinders – £8,000+ each
Then the auxilliary stuff-
rakes, brushes, pruners, loppers, blah blah blah
I missed one earlier, possible the most important – TRAINING – Payment for memberships, NPTC qualifications, City & Guilds, NVQs, climbing courses, powerline clearance/shut down courses etc etc if you are a budding tree surgeon wannabe you might be lucky enough to get the opportunity to work for a large firm that will fund train you.
take all this and then add the cost to maintain all of these above – to repair equipment, to sharpen, change, replace chipper blades, the time it takes to sharpen chainsaw blades or replace when it cuts through a nail that was absorbed by the tree 15 years ago by a washing line that did once upon a time hang, the cost of fuel in all of the above! Sure it might take half an hour to an hour to lower a hedge – and double the time to chip, clear up, and express courier the tons of green waste back to the yard (Oh yes another huge factor – yard rental!!!!) to be tipped and rotated in neat mountainous piles!
So this is the general run of the mill stuff for any professional tree surgeon outfit worth its salt!
Now lets take into account the market – My brother gets a lot of repeat business, he is very recommended and respected in his trade. Repeat customers are bread and butter – now, the only trouble is – how fast do trees really grow? Now this will obviously vary from species to species, but generally – after he has performed all of his work professionally like the perfectionist he is – conforming to BS3998, the trees will, generally, not need tending or any further treatment for 2-3+ years.
So here comes the other chunky cost – advertising! Well I might assume the reader of this post to think ‘all businesses have to do it!’ – and I would agree this to be true. However take into account the fact that other markets generally have faster repeat business!
So how much is it to advertise in: yellow pages,, thomson local, the local door step publications, trade journals, company leaflet printing & distribution, websites, the cost of developing, maintaining hosting, and search engine optimisation. etc etc
Ok so we have established the run of the mill costs- now lets look at the longevity of a tree surgeon and his/her career-
My brother, for instance started at 18 years old, he has been in the profession for over 16 years and has worked for multiple large firms on utility contracts and set up his own tree surgery business. He is very practical and hands on and expects everyone else on site to be his standards or higher! He will always be a tree surgeon!
Now despite the reoccuring risks of self amputation, loss of sight, being crushed beneath falling timbers…and oh… yes…death, the most common hazards and illnesses associated with tree surgery is vibration white finger. A numbness of the nerves caused by repetitive use of chainsaws, hedge trimmers and constant daily use of machinery.
So lets see, assuming all the risks involved and hazely outlined above – do you think £150 is really worth it?
Have you tried wielding a chainsaw or professional hedge trimmer for more than 10 mins?
Well don’t cos it wrecks! And kickback will hurt more, so if you wanna go gungho in your garden then seek training first or call in a professional tree surgeon!
£150? You got a good deal!!!!   “
Last edited by tree contractor; 24-08-2009 at 12:30 AM.
Like I said, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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