Once you have found a company that can do the work well, price becomes your primary consideration.

The table below shows prices three Checkbook mystery shopper received from area tree care companies for three typical tree removal jobs. As you can see, the price differences are striking—from $650 to $2,304 for one job. Be sure to obtain multiple competitive bids for your work.

It’s pretty easy to collect proposals from companies. Typically, you don’t have to be home when bidders are looking at the job. But keep these points in mind as you solicit bids:

  • Because it can be difficult to connect with estimators during working hours, when crews are out on the job, be prepared to leave a number where you can be reached during evenings and weekends.
  • Not every estimator actually shows up as promised; no-shows are a common complaint about tree care services. Invite more companies than you actually need; then, once you have enough bids, promptly cancel the remaining visits.
  • If you won’t be home, provide careful instructions as to exactly what work you want done.
  • To make sure you know precisely what is being offered, request itemized, written bids.
  • If the following services are not included in a written bid for tree removal or pruning, they probably aren’t included in the price: cleaning up the area afterward, hauling away the debris, cutting wood to desirable firewood lengths, splitting wood, stacking wood, and removing the stump. If you want any of these services, ask companies to include them in their bids.
  • Other points to clarify in bids for tree removal or pruning (and in the contract that follows) include: exact work to be done (for example, “removal of all dead, dying, or weak branches of at least one-inch diameter”), dates by which the work will begin and end, branches to be lowered or dropped, and precise responsibility for any damage caused.
  • Points to be covered in bids (and contracts) for spraying include: type of spray and spray equipment to be used, pest or disease to be treated, and preparations you must make (for instance, covering lawn furniture).
  • Bids for fertilizing jobs should specify the type and amount of fertilizer to be used and how it will be applied (for example, by drilling holes in the ground or by injection into the tree).
  • You may be able to get a better price for pruning or removing trees if you can schedule work during the winter, when companies are less busy and there is less debris to haul away.
  • After you obtain bids, have the chosen company write up a fixed-price contract for both you and the company to sign.
Prices Quoted by Companies for Tree Removal Work
Company Job A Job B Job C
A-1 Bob Sarff Tree Service, Richfield $650 $675
Aaspen Tree Service, Wayzata $540 $310
All Season's Tree Service, St Paul $500 $825
Arbor Tree Service, Brooklyn Center $700
Bartlett Tree Experts, Plymouth $950 $2,304 $285
Blue Chip Tree, Cottage Grove $895 $795
Central Minnesota Tree Service, Fridley $700
Collins Tree Care & Removal, Prior Lake $700
Crystal Tree Service, Crystal $450
Davey Tree & Lawn Care, Plymouth $900 $465
Four Seasons Tree Service, Hopkins $480 $650
Gould's Tree Service, Rogers $1,500
K C Groves Tree Experts, Minneapolis $520
North Star Tree Care, Pierz $600 $225
Northeast Tree, Minneapolis $1,050
Precision Landscape & Tree, Little Canada $975 $1,975
Rainbow Treecare, Minnetonka $1,725 $1,760 $450
Roger's Tree Service, St Paul $600
S & S Tree & Horticultural, South St Paul $825 $1,440
Shadywood Tree Experts, Hopkins $790 $325
St Croix Savatree, Roberts $650
Urban Foresters, Minneapolis $960 $250
Valley Tree Service, Apple Valley $550 $750
Vineland Tree Care, Minneapolis $600 $400
Difference between lowest and highest price quotes $1,275 $1,654 $240
Job A: Remove one maple tree with 16" diameter trunk. Haul away all wood and debris and cut stump as close to ground level as possible.
Job B: Remove two oak trees, one 37' tall with 72" circumference trunk, the other 35' tall with 52" circumference trunk. Cut stumps as close to ground level as possible, haul away brush, and leave wood in 6' lengths for owner to cut into firewood.
Job C: Remove one 25' tall ash tree with 25" circumference trunk. Haul away all wood and debris and grind stump.