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

The table below shows prices four Checkbook mystery shoppers received from area tree care companies for typical tree removal jobs. As you can see, the price differences are striking—from $1,825 to $6,600 for one of the jobs. 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 Job D
AAA Tree Service, Alexandria, VA $400
Absolute Tree, Alexandria, VA $1,000
Adirondack Tree Experts, Beltsville, MD $2,350
Alvarado's Tree Service, Bowie, MD $2,900
Atlas Tree, Leesburg, VA $700
Arlington Tree Care, Arlington, VA $2,000
Artistic Tree Experts, Silver Spring, MD $3,500
Baileys Tree Service, Falls Church, VA $680
Bartlett Tree Experts, Springfield, VA $1,192
Bel Pre Applicators, Silver Spring, MD $2,600
Bonifant Tree Service, Silver Spring, MD $6,600
Bonilla Tree Service, Falls Church, VA $900
Capitol Tree Care, Fairfax, VA $950 $850
The Care of Trees, Dulles, VA $1,085
College Park Tree Service, College Park, MD $1,825
Dad's Tree Service, Springfield, VA $1,100 $975 $2,200
East Coast Arborist, Sterling, VA $810 $510
Economy Tree Care, Fairfax, VA $800
Family Tree Care, Fairfax, VA $1,060 $1,300
Freedom Tree Service, Manassas, VA $610 $630
Growing Earth Tree Care, Ashburn, VA $920 $725
Hewitt Tree Service, Olney, MD $2,400
Homestead Tree Experts, Springfield, VA $875
JL Tree Service, Fairfax, VA $750 $600
Northern VA Tree Experts, Chantilly, VA $710
Premium Lawn & Landscape, Fairfax Station, VA $2,975
Quality Tree Care, Springfield, VA $1,965
Richard's Tree Service, Annandale, VA $3,650
Ross Tree Service, Bristow, VA $460
SAB Lawn & Landscaping, Sterling, VA $1,150
SavaTree, Springfield, VA $2,780
Strictly Stumps, Stafford, VA $2,200
Thrive, Sterling, VA $850
Tim W Frazier Tree Service, Rixeyville, VA $600
Twin Oak Tree Care, Alexandria, VA $1,705
Tyson's Tree Company, Sterling, VA $800
Woodlawn Tree Service, Alexandria, VA $1,785
Difference between lowest and highest price quotes $792 $840 $1,945 $4,775
Job A: Remove 35" circumference, 60' tall holly tree and 50" circumference, 120' tall maple tree, haul away all wood and debris, and grind stumps.
Job B: Remove two blue spruce trees, each with 10" diameter trunks and 12' tall. Haul away all wood and debris and grind stumps.
Job C: Remove 36" diameter, 100' tall oak tree, haul away all wood and debris, and grind stump.
Job D: Remove 8' circumference, 70' tall silver maple, haul away all wood and debris, and grind stump.