7 Things To Ask Tree Trimming Service Experts for Safe Branch Removal

Professional trimming a tree branch after homeowner read a tree trimming service guide that outlined tree services, tree trimming tools for branch removal and how much to trim a tree?

The responsibility of home ownership demands vigilance and sacrifice, and if you own trees, you may have to employ the tree trimming service of a contractor.

Generally speaking, how you tend to your trees on your property is your own business. However, you should research local laws and ordinances before assuming your responsibilities.

Free Tree Trimming Quote: Check Local Pricing

You may need a tree trimming service for the sake of landscape aesthetics and upkeep. Additionally, legal complaints from neighbors or lawsuits may facilitate the need to hire a tree-trimming service contractor.

This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about tree trimming. Additionally, you’ll learn five things you should ask tree trimming service experts about their operations, including branch removal, before hiring them.

Of course, you should also understand the difference between tree trimming and tree pruning.

7 Things To Ask Tree Trimming Service Experts for Safe Branch Removal

Here are the things to ask tree trimming service experts for safe branch removal:

1. “Is Your Tree Trimming Service Licensed?”

As you have learned in this guide, the cost of not trimming and keeping maintenance of the trees on your property can become aesthetically, legally, and financially costly problems. If you can’t find a tree trimming service through personal referrals then make sure you thoroughly vet any contractors you find on your own.

You should ask for and confirm the licensing, insurance, and skills certifications of any contractor you allow on your property before they arrive. Don’t just assume that every contractor can do what they claim.

You don’t have to become a lawyer, but you should be aware of local laws that affect your rights as a homeowner. For example, a tree trimming service expert does not necessarily need a license to practice their vocation depending on local and state laws.

There are many states where a tree trimmer expert must be bonded, insured, and licensed. But there are also many states where such contractors don’t even need a license.

And an unlicensed contractor could have inefficient, suspect, or non-existent insurance, certifications, or skills.

A tree trimmer contractor in your state may only need a general occupational license to work in a general vocation without the need to have specialized skills.7

2. “Do You Have Tree Trimming Insurance?”

If you hire an unlicensed trim trimming service that operates without proof of general liability or workers’ compensation insurance, then you might be setting yourself up for legal nightmares in the future.

Depending on where you live, tree trimmers may not need to be licensed or even show they have insurance in order to work.

In 2016, two unlicensed and uninsured tree trimmers in Florida got electrocuted when they hit power lines while trimming a homeowner’s tree.8

Tree trimmer experts in Florida do not need to be licensed.14

Obtaining an occupational license allows them to work without acquiring or maintaining relevant skills to perform competent work.

The unqualified tree trimmers apparently knocked on the client’s door offering discount services. The Floridian homeowner in the incident can potentially sue the uninsured and unlicensed tree trimmers because they didn’t have general liability insurance.

However, since the unqualified duo didn’t have workers’ compensation insurance.

They may be able to sue the homeowner to pay their medical bills because they were injured on their property. Even if the unqualified contractors don’t win, the homeowners can now look forward to an uncertain financial future filled with legal wrangling and costly lawsuits.

Ask for licensing, skills, and certification documentation. Make sure that the contractor has general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

You can also vet such contractors on your state’s Better Business Bureau website.

3. “Are You a Certified Arborist Tree Trimming Service?”

The most optimum way to remove the worry about the skills and qualifications of your tree trimming expert is to ask if they are an arborist.15

Close up image of arborist cutting the branch of the tree.

(Image: Deborah Lee Soltesz, U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest19)

An arborist is an expert in identifying, diagnosing, caring for, and strategically removing plants, shrubbery, and trees. Qualified arborists are trained in identifying healthy versus diseased trees on sight.

Qualified arborists are also called tree doctors and can treat, trim, prune, or remove diseased, dying, or dead trees.

A qualified arborist can treat or remove diseased plants and trees without infecting or compromising nearby trees and fauna. A qualified arborist acquires additional training to handle landscaping equipment safely in potentially dangerous situations, like using a ladder to prune tall trees near power lines.

A qualified arborist will trim or remove dead branches from your tree and reliably ensure that it will stay healthy. Still, you must make sure you contract a qualified arborist.

Being an arborist is a vocation that does not necessarily require training depending on the location. Depending on where you live, an arborist or tree trimming expert can be anyone with a truck, axe, chainsaw, landscaping equipment, and an occupational license, if necessary.

Look for tree-trimming service experts who are Certified Arborists. To attain that qualification, the arborist must be officially certified by the International Society of Arborists.

This is not just a fancy title; ISA Certified Arborists have to stay apprised of advancing techniques and earn new education credits every year to re-up certifications, and skills, and maintain their title.

A qualified arborist has spent three or more years working directly with trees and has an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in arboriculture. Use the BBB or ask a tree trimming service if they have an ISA Certified Arborist on staff and for proof of certifications.

You’ll be confident that your contractor knows what they are doing if they start trimming trees and removing branches or large limbs. Be warned – Certified Arborist has the leverage to charge more for their services due to their credentials.

4. “Do You Provide an Initial Consultation?”

To make sure that you get quality service, ask if the contractor provides a consultation prior to starting work. A qualified, licensed, and insured tree trimmer service may ask for a small consultation fee depending on the scope and range of the proposed work.

You should ask for an initial consultation for the same reason that you should never accept offers from tree trimmers who knock on your door – you want to get an expert opinion on the problem and see what they suggest.

Also, how can a tree-trimming expert decide what to do and how to price the work without first seeing the scope of the problem?

If you need dead branches removed or trees trimmed, wouldn’t you like to know what the contractor will do before they show up to work on your property?

5. “Can You Provide a Tree Trimming Cost Calculator?” (A Price List of Services)

There are no generalized price metrics for tree-trimming services. Every contractor sets their own prices.

The contractor will set their own pricing standard. And if they encounter difficulties on the job or unknown problems, they can then charge extra to deal with unforeseen on-the-job hindrances.

Here is a general tree trimming cost calculator, or a set of services that determines the eventual price.

  • Species type
  • Size and width of the tree
  • Number of trees to be serviced
  • Health of tree
  • Obstacles and hazards on the work site
  • Type of equipment required
  • Cleanup and removal
  • Mulching
  • Working with heritage or protected trees

6. “What Is a Reasonable Price for Tree Trimming?”

After a consultation and requesting a price list, you may want to ask for an initial price for services.

The initial price for a tree trimming service averages around $200 to $500. However, depending on the scope and complexity of the job, you might have to pay $1,000, $2,000, or more.

After an initial consultation, you may want to ask to have a contract drawn up that stipulates the services that will be performed on your property absent any unforeseen contingencies.

7. “What Tree Trimming Tools Do You Use?”

You should know what kinds of equipment and tools the tree trimming expert will potentially use on your property.

The contractor might have to use saws, shears, axes, chainsaws, and other kinds of sharp and hazardous tools. They may need to bring in heavy equipment like trucks, ladder bucket trucks, cranes, and so on.

Tree Trimming Service (Do They Trim or Prune Trees?)

The difference between a tree trimming service and a tree removal service is that a tree trimming service does not necessarily remove a whole tree.

An arborist providing Tree Trimming Service.

(Image: CJ16)

It’s important to note that such specialists may advertise themselves as a tree trimming service or as tree pruners. Although some experts insist that there is a difference between “trimming,” and “pruning,” the terms are used interchangeably often in the industry.1

Tree Trimming and Pruning

Tree trimming can be considered the equivalent of a haircut for a human. It is mostly done to maintain desired aesthetics, control growth, prevent the canopy from crossing boundaries, and prevent uncontrolled growth from touching nearby hazards.

When it comes to arboriculture,9 pruning is the health-optimizing and surgical removal of foliage and branches on a tree. Pruning is the equivalent of amputation and the excision of tree parts to ensure the continued healthy growth and regeneration of the tree.10

When you start researching, you may see the terms trimming and pruning used interchangeably. While it is not much to worry about, you should never assume either.

Always ask a tree trimming service contractor to document their credentials, certifications, skills, and services. (More on that later.)

Now, here are some more detailed reasons why you would need a tree trimming service. The best way to ask informed questions and get good answers from a contractor is to have a general understanding of what they do.

When Would a Tree Trimmer Be Needed?

Like many things in life, trees need vigilance and management. Not paying attention to any changes in growth or aesthetics could lead to unpleasant landscape visuals, potential boundary, and legal disputes, or missing undiagnosed health problems.

Image of an arborist at the top of the tree.

(Image: henry perks17)

To better understand what you may need to ask of a tree trimming service, here are reasons why you may need to get your tree trimmed.

Enhance Aesthetics

In the same manner that you get regular haircuts or hair stylings to look presentable, you may need a tree trimming service to keep your tree looking aesthetically presentable. Untrimmed trees with wide canopies can soon become misshapen, look visually unbalanced, and even potentially affect property values.

For the same reason you get your grass cut, you should trim your tree when needed. Branches sometimes branch off in unpredictable directions, and uncontrolled growth can make your tree look visually weird.

Like the practice of topiary with shrubs, pollarding is the practice of cutting and shaping trees to maintain a desired shape.

Tree trimming can also improve the aesthetics of your local landscape and surroundings. Strategically removing some limbs, branches, and trimming foliage can reveal more of your property and make it look grander.

Improve Sunlight Exposes To Lower Branches, Grass, and Gardens

Hiring a tree trimming service can help expose more sunlight to your grass, garden, and landscape.

A visually unkempt and untrimmed tree with a wide canopy and appearance will prevent sunlight from hitting the branches, leaves, grass, flowers, and gardens directly underneath the canopy.

Branch Removal and Disease Treatment

Trees can contract diseases just like human beings. Many of the diseases that affect trees are called blight and involve fungus spread or slow and contagious rotting.2

Image of arborist cutting the branch of the tree.

(Image: Milwaukee VA Medical Center18)

Diseased trees, limbs, or roots can affect nearby trees and plants. Diseased limbs and roots can also impede the continued health and growth of the tree.

Diseased limbs may droop downwards and cause infected tree bark and leaves to become discolored and look visibly distressed.

A tree does not necessarily need to be removed if it becomes diseased. Just like a frostbitten or gangrenous human limb, tree branches, limbs, and roots can be removed or trimmed to save the tree.

Removing diseased tree branches or roots rejuvenates the tree and encourages more energy generation via photosynthesis to regrow limbs and become healthy.

Accident Prevention

Tree limbs and branches can become top-heavy with overgrowth. Diseased limbs located high up on a tree make the limbs weak.

A heavy wind or severe storm could potentially cause heavy limbs or the tree to fall on property, structures, vehicles, driveways, and even people.

Trees with wide canopies that grow too tall could potentially touch overhead power lines.

Well-trimmed trees have less surface area to blow over and cause damage than an unkempt and untrimmed tree with a wide canopy and overgrown limbs and branches.

A good tree trimming service should be able to strategically trim tree roots that could encroach and damage nearby underground infrastructures. Tree roots can be trimmed to protect sewer lines or the nearby root systems of other trees and plants.

Discourage Pest Infestations

Certain pests and insects can be more attracted to dead, dying, and diseased tree limbs than healthy ones.

Preempt or Comply With Legal Disputes

Generally speaking, it’s up to you as a private homeowner to trim your tree. Most states don’t require you to trim it against your will.

You should still research your local city laws. Depending on where you live, local laws may require you to trim your tree whether you want to or not if public infrastructure, like power lines, is deemed to be at threat.

There are several legal examples that can prove this point.

Enforced Tree Care Service

In New York City, the Parks Department has the discretion to prune trees as they see fit. New Yorkers noticed that the regular tree trimming service lapsed in late 2022 due to legal problems with the tree trimming contractor.3

The trees within city limits are regularly trimmed to protect structures and infrastructure.

In 2013, over 600,000 Michigan residents lost power during a severe ice storm. Michigan state authorities estimated that over 40% of the power outages were caused by untrimmed and vulnerable trees damaging power lines and equipment as well as private property.4

In 2014, Michigan public service authorities began trimming and cutting down trees on private properties without permission to preempt another outage. These actions resulted in a $54 million class action lawsuit being filed against the state.

In 2022, Tennessee state utility authorities were sued by private residents for their controversial policy concerning 15-foot trees.5

The utility company unilaterally decided that any untrimmed tree on private property that grows over 15 feet with the potential to disrupt their power lines and infrastructure could be indiscriminately removed without homeowner permission.

Neighbors sue each other regularly over trivial matters in the United States. Your neighbor might sue you because the shadow of your tree’s wide canopy blocks the sunlight from their property.

In 2008, there was a landmark neighbor feud lawsuit in California involving solar panels. A couple with tall and untrimmed trees were sued by their neighbor because the unkempt trees created a canopy shadow that blocked the solar panels on the house of the neighbor.6

The point is that you should consult with a lawyer to officially determine your property’s boundary lines and potential legal liabilities. Trimming your trees could be in your best legal interests in the long run.

Tree Type May Demand Regular Tree Trimming Service

Some types of trees are scientifically proven to grow faster than other types. For example, deciduous trees grow at a significantly faster rate of speed than evergreen trees.11

Deciduous trees are species of trees that drop their leaves during maturity,12
winter, or during times of stress and shock. Evergreen trees keep their leaves throughout the year.13

Consult an arborist to learn about the species classification and growth characteristics of the trees on your property. Learning this information can help you determine if you need the aid of a tree trimming service every few months, annually, or biannually.

Ready To Spend Money on Tree Services for Trimming or Removal?

The cost for a tree trimming service to work on a tree under 60 feet ranges anywhere between $200 to $900.7

The average cost to remove a large tree from private property can start at $2,000 as a lowball conservative estimate. Trimming your tree and having an arborist check its health could save you from spending big bucks on removal costs in the future.

How To Find Stump Grinding Near Me

Unless you have multiple unkempt and untrimmed trees that need trimming or branches removed, you probably don’t need the use of a stump grinder.

Image of an arborist using the stump grinding tool to remove the stump.

(Image: Reluskie20)

If a Certified Arborist tree trimming service expert says that your tree is dying, dead, or infected with the disease and must be removed, then you will need a stump grinder. Be prepared to pay extra for the service.

Read More About Tree (Tree Trimming Service)

How much to trim palm trees? It depends on the species and complexity of the work to be performed.

Here is a Palm Tree trimming cost calculator so you know what to expect for services when the bill comes due.

Need to understand the general services for tree trimming services? Here is a tree trimming cost calculator.

Be aware of your rights as a property owner and of your local laws regarding property boundaries and trees.

Doing something relatively average like hiring a tree trimming service expert to work on your property can result in inept work, damages, or even lawsuits if you hire the wrong contractor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Trimming Service

How Much To Trim a Tree?

Generally, you will pay $200 to $500 dollars for general tree trimming services.

If you hire a Certified Arborist tree trimming service, need to have a tree diagnosed or have diseased branches removed, or need complex work performed, then be prepared to pay more.

Do Tree Trimming Service Experts Remove Little Trees?

You will pay less money to hire tree trimming contractors to service little trees.

Does One Need a Permit for Evergreen Disposal?

Be apprised of your local laws regarding protected trees or trees with heritage status. The fact that a tree is deciduous or evergreen is not as important as the species or whether it is endangered. You will definitely need a permit to dispose of such trees.

What Is the Use of a Tree Removal Cost Calculator?

You should be informed of how tree trimming services calculate their costs since you’re paying for their services.

Are a Shrub Trimming Service the Same as a Tree Trimming Service?

A plant, tree, and shrub are basically the same thing differentiated by size, stages of development, and method of cultivation. A qualified tree trimming service, and especially a Ceritified Arborist, are well equipped to handle shrubs.

Is Stump Removal a Part of Tree Trimming Services?

A tree trimming service could do stump removal or grind your stump, but it will cost a lot more than a general tree trimming.


1Soto, M. (2021, November 13). Tree Pruning Vs. Tree Trimming: What’s the Difference? HomeServe blog. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.homeserve.com/en-us/blog/home-improvement/pruning-vs-trimming/>

2Nix, S. (2022, December 12). 32 Common Tree Diseases. Treehugger. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.treehugger.com/an-index-of-common-tree-diseases-1342808>

3Chang, C. (2022, September 21). The City Quietly Stopped Pruning a Lot of Its Trees. CURBED. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.curbed.com/2022/09/parks-department-tree-pruning-climate-week.html>

4Grossman, J. (2015, January 21). Fieger files $54 million lawsuit over DTE tree trimming. Hometown Life. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/birmingham/2015/01/21/fieger-files-million-lawsuit-dte-tree-trimming/22113027/>

5SATTERFIELD, J. (2022, August 30). Tennessee Valley Authority loses tree-cutting fight in 6th Circuit. TENNESSEE | LOOKOUT. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://tennesseelookout.com/2022/08/30/tennessee-valley-authority-loses-tree-cutting-fight-in-6th-circuit/>

6Barringer, F. (2008, April 7). Trees Block Solar Panels, and a Feud Ends in Court. The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/science/earth/07redwood.html>

7Noel, S. (2023, April 5). Tree trimming cost. homeguide. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://homeguide.com/costs/tree-trimming-cost>

8Scripps Media, Inc. (2016, July 14). Protecting yourself against unlicensed tree trimmers. ABC Action News. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/protecting-yourself-against-unlicensed-tree-trimmers>

9Wikipedia. (2023, May 20). Arboriculture. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arboriculture>

10Regents of the University of Minnesota. (2022). Pruning trees and shrubs. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/pruning-trees-and-shrubs#pruning-established-trees-1335962>

11Tomlinson, K. W., Poorter, L., Bongers, F., Borghetti, F., Jacobs, L., & Langevelde, F. v. (2014, June 22). Relative growth rate variation of evergreen and deciduous savanna tree species is driven by different traits. NIH. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4111386/>

12Wikipedia. (2023, April 15). Deciduous. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deciduous>

13Wikipedia. (2023, May 11). Evergreen. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreen>

14Rosenthal, S. (2018, June 12). HOW TO HIRE A TREE SERVICE. UF|IFAS Extension. Retrieved May 22, 2023, from <https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/leon/image/How-to-Hire-a-Tree-Service_MT-edit.pdf>

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16CJ. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/photos/tree-service-hard-work-lumberjack-1059484/>

17henry perks. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/uaKF5IZVcGc>

18Milwaukee VA Medical Center. Flickr. Retrieved from <https://flic.kr/p/28tHNPs>

19Deborah Lee Soltesz, U.S. Forest Service Coconino National Forest. Flickr. Retrieved from <https://flic.kr/p/ZjDyhy>

20Reluskie. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bandit_Model_2800SP_stump_grinder.jpg>