How much does it cost to cut down or prune a large tree in your garden?


There are many reasons why you might want a large tree cut down in your garden which can range anywhere from saving money on tree maintenance to an unhealthy tree posing a threat to your property, particularly if it’s damaged or diseased. If you are a hands on person then it might be worth reading my article titled ‘how to cut down a small to medium sized tree yourself‘, otherwise keep reading to find out how much you should expect to pay a professional tree surgeon to cut back or cut down a tree for you, especially if it’s a large tree that needs cutting down or pruning.

Do you need a qualified tree surgeon to cut back or cut down your tree?

For a small to medium sized tree no taller than 12 feet then there’s a good chance that you could have your gardener come and cut the tree down or prune it for you, depending on their experience ofcourse. As a professional landscape gardener myself, I often find myself cutting down trees but even with experience I have my limits!

The benefits of having your gardener or any other handy person with experience come and prune your tree is that you might find that they offer a cheaper rate. As a quick example and depending on the area you live in, a typical gardener will likely want to charge a day rate of £160 which is £90 cheaper compared to paying a qualified tree surgeon with prices typically starting from £250 for the day, and could rise to the £400 mark. But there are other factors involved too such as the cost of waste, and since a tree surgeon will be better equipped to dispose of the tree waste then there’s a good chance that despite the day rate being more expensive, you will save money on the removal of waste.

If it’s a particularly large tree, or if the tree is in an area of concern where there is a level of risk involved to your property, then I would always recommend going straight for a tree surgeon. The first reason would be because a qualified tree surgeon will have an insurance policy covering them for the risks involved when cutting down trees. There’s no point saving some money for an over confident but unqualified handy person to come and cut back your tree to only cause damage without the proper insurance and therefore end up costing you more money!

A tree surgeon will know the safest way to cut down or cut back your tree, minimilising the risks involved and will have all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed including the harnesses etc to work from a height.

What I’m saying is that if you have a small to medium sized tree that needs cutting down then it’s worth getting some quotes from both gardeners and tree surgeons alike but if you have a medium to large sized tree then get some quotes from only tree surgeons. If you do have a gardener agree to take on the work then make sure they have the proper insurance needed to take on the work!

How much does a tree surgeon charge to prune or cut down a tree?

As a landscape gardener I have met many qualified tree surgeons. Some have turned up randomly to cut down a tree whilst I have been working on a garden project whilst some we have had come and prune a large tree on our behalf when the tree that needed pruning or cutting down was beyond our expertise. In the majority of cases, I have had conversations with these tree surgeons and they have all said that they charge by the day regardless of the job, with few exceptions.

In other words, the tree surgeons that I have spoken to have a minimum day rate in mind. Whether the tree takes 5 hours to cut down or 9, the day rate stays the same. I suppose some days are longer than others. As a landscape gardener, I do the same so this isn’t uncommon.

The cheapest tree surgeon I came across was a self employed man near retirement age that charged a day rate of £200, with the majority of tree surgeons charging around the £250 per day mark, although some tree surgeons aimed to earn up to £400 per day. What they did say though is that in the majority of cases, most trees would take a day or less to cut down. It’s the pruning of large trees that tends to take a little longer than simply cutting them down.

If we look at the above information as an average, then you should expect to pay a tree surgeon around £300 to cut down a tree that takes a day or less to complete. This price is on a ‘per person’ basis and I would expect a discounted day rate for each additional person needed.

There are a few exceptions ofcourse, and this is for those smaller trees where it would take a tree surgeon half a day or less to complete. For these jobs, I would expect a minimum charge of half a day rate, around the £150 mark. This is ofcourse all based on the tree surgeons I have spoken to personally on the outskirts of London. Depending on your location and company used, the prices could change considerably.

How much does a tree surgeon charge to get rid of the waste?

As a landscape gardener, we get charged either by the van load or by the van weight when it comes to disposing of garden waste. If it’s only green waste, such as the waste from a cut down tree, then we try to take it to a compost centre where they turn the waste into compost for a profit which means they charge less (by the van load) compared to using a weighbridge at a commercial recycling centre.

Since a landscape gardener typically won’t own a commercial shredder like the ones used by tree surgeons (see the picture above), this means that we will get a lot less in our van without it being shredded, and in return having to do more than one trip when cutting down larger trees, or pruning a higher number of trees. More van trips means a higher cost of waste disposal which is charged to the customer. A qualified tree surgeon may (understandably) charge more for the job but they will save you money on the cost of removing the tree waste.

Not only this, but since a tree surgeon will shred most parts of the tree, there are actually options available where they can sell the wood chip. Although this depends on their location too.

From my conversations with tree surgeons, I would expect to pay around £150 to get rid of a van load of waste. If you’re thinking about getting rid of the waste yourself then here are my 5 ways to get rid of your garden waste for free.

My thoughts on the costs involved when having a large tree cut down or cut back in your garden

Cutting down a large tree certainly isn’t the safest career option for tree surgeons so I would say that a day rate of anywhere between £200 and £400 is a fair price to pay. For those larger jobs where a team of 3 tree surgeons are needed then I would expect to pay a bare minimum of £700 for the day.

Not only this but the van, commercial shredder, power tools, personal protective equipment, fuel between jobs etc all adds up and isn’t cheap! When you look at it that way, an average day rate of £300 really isn’t bad at all!

The only thing I would keep in mind is the cost of waste. For every day rate, I would expect an additional waste charge of around the £150 mark but this ofcourse depends on the size of tree that needs cutting down of level of pruning required.

All of the above information doesn’t include the cost of stump removal or stump grinding so I’ll make sure to write an article on this shortly and include a link here when I do. In the mean time, here are my 3 ways to get rid of a tree stump yourself.

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