To keep trees health, safe and looking great, you will need to implement a regular pruning program. The cost of hiring an arborist for pro tree pruning will largely depend factors such as:

  1. Size of the tree
  2. Type of prune being done
  3. Location on your property

The average cost of tree pruning is $625. The real range is from $325 for a palm prune right up to $1,450 for a very large trees.

Tree SizeLowHigh
Extra Large$900$1,800

Arborists are experts in trees and should be used for medium and larger tree jobs. They are highly skilled and have specialized in training and equipment to get your job done in a safe manner. This ensures the health vitality of your tree as well as safety of your home and family.

There are 2 different routes you can take when choosing a potential tree pruning service to carry out work.

A certified arborist or a lawn care/ garden maintenance contractor.

If a tree is smaller than 5m (a single-story house) and the branches that need removing are no thick than your wrist, then a gardener would be your best choice. A garden care contractor will be much much cheaper and in less demand. Pro tree prunning arborists should be used for medium and larger trees.


Tree Pruning Cost by Tree Size

Small tree: 1 – 1.5 stories high

Cost: $325 – $450

Anything smaller than 1 story or 5m high can be managed by a gardener. But if it is a little larger 1 – 1.5 stories high (5 – 7m), you will need an arborist. It will be somewhere between $325 – $450.

Medium tree: 2 stories high +

Cost: $450 – $690

A Medium sized tree (8 – 11m). Cutting lower branches for a canopy list will be less expensive than canopy thinning for example, as there is less time spent climbing. The price range would be between $450 – $690.

Large tree: 3 Stories + high

Cost: $790 – $1,320

Like with the other size trees (a large tree being 12 – 16m) it is really going to depend on the particular species being pruned and the specific work being done. If the tree is an odd shape and has a very dense canopy, it will take longer to trim. Generally speaking, you are looking at $790 – $1,320 for specimens 3 – 5 stories in height.

Extra Large tree: 5 Stories + high

Cost: $990 – $2,150

There won’t be too many of you in this category. XL trees 16 – 20m+ that needs some branches removed, then it is obviously going to be fairly costly. It will depend on the size and number of the branches being removed. But I would budget between $990 – $2,150.

tree pruning cost guide video cover image
Play Video about tree pruning cost guide video cover

Average pruning cost per hour

In general tree pruning services do not charge by the hour, rather they charge by the job.

The reason for this is professional tree services all have different numbers of staff and equipment to get the job done.

One company might take four hours to do the pruning job whereas another company might only take one hour, yet they charge the same amount.

You could say the company that only took 1 hour charged 4 x on average per hour for tree trimming, but at the end of the day, the cost is the same.

How often do you need to prune trees?

How regularly trees need pruning will depend on the age of the tree and how fast it grows.

It is important to have a tree pruning maintenance program in place to ensure the health and structural integrity of your tree. Younger trees from 1 to 5 years old will need pruning on a yearly basis, to ensure a desirable shape and structure of the tree is established early.

Generally, mature trees can be pruned every 1 to 5 years again depending on the type of tree, and how fast it grows in your desired outcome for the prune.

When pruning mature trees, you should never take off more than 15% per year as this is generally the rate at which the tree itself grows.

Benefits of tree pruning

Tree Health – Trees respond well to regular pruning. Removing deadwood or decaying branches, crossing branches or any other structural abnormality will stop future mechanical damage and allows the tree to get on with the healing process.

Aesthetic appeal – Pruning your trees helps boost curb appeal and can even add value to your property.

Improved lawn growth – Performing a canopy lift and allow more light to penetrate the lawn below will improve lawn health.

Power and heating bill –  By letting more light through the canopy of the tree, you can drastically reduce the cost of heading your home. If done right, you can also create shade when the sun is high in summer and reduce cooling costs too.

Professional tree trimming costs by type

Canopy lift

A canopy lift is to prune the lower branches essentially raising the height of the canopy. This is normally only done once or twice as the tree is growing. When the lower branches are at a comfortable height from the ground, you will not need to continue lifting.

Price: As this requires the least amount of work you can expect to pay between $200 – $700

canopy lift3fullcolor650x350

Canopy tinning

This involves the trimming of 10 – 30% of the canopy’s internal branches to reduce the overall volume of branches. This is done usually to let some more light into your yard or home, without complete removal.

5m – 8m = $300 – 600
8m – 15m = $600 – 1200
15m – 25m = $1200 – 2000

canopy thinning infographic

Tree reduction

This is a fairly major prune. it involves the arborist to go to every extremity of the tree and take a percentage of the foliage off resulting in a clean and even reduction of the tree’s overall size.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $350 – $1500 depending on the size of the trees.

canopy tree reduction vector


This type of tree trimming can only be performed on certain types of trees as it really does go against general tree trimming practices (i.e. the collar cut). But it is normally performed on small trees that have multiple vertical second-order branches. These branches are cut to about a 3rd of the size in the winter and left to rejuvenate through the spring. This is repeated every year or second year at worst.

less than 5m $150 – $350
5m – 10m $250 – $850

Deadwood removal

As the name suggests, it involves the removal of dead branches in trees. This is something that should be done on a regular basis to stop them from snapping off and injuring pedestrians or damaging property.

5 – 10m = $150 – $600
10 – 20m = $400 – $1200
20m + = $500 – $1500

Crossing branches

This is a growth defect that needs to be addressed as early as possible as it can cause problems with the branches’ structural integrity in the future. When the branches begin rubbing up against each other when windy, the bark is stripped off the branch exposing it to bugs, fungi and rot. They should be removed when noticed.

Price range: $100 – $800

Duel leading trunks

Most large trees should be trained to a single main leader trunk. The reason being they are stronger alone. When the union between two vertical trucks fills up with leaves, water and dirt, it begins to rot from the inside out. Eventually, one side will give way in a strong wind and can cause injury and death.

As you can imagine it would depend on the tree. It could be a 5m tree and only cost $150, but it could also be a 35m tree and amount to thousands.

tree pruning cost estimate infographic prune styles

Tree Topping

Similar to pollarding where you take the whole top out of a tree to reduce its overall height. This is not advisable for most trees and is actually illegal in some states and cities as the regrowth can become dangerous as it is not connected to the tree itself, but just to the bark.

Price range: $200 – $1200

Fruit tree pruning cost

As the name suggests it is the removal of branches from a fruit-bearing tree in the hope of increasing the yield of the tree. The idea is you take away some of the limbs the tree has to support with its current root system, which frees up extra energy to produce more fruit.

Range: $150 – $350

fruit tree pruning

Cost factor considerations

Seasonal factors to consider

When getting any tree trimming work done by a professional arborist, it is worth remembering that the high season is spring and summer. If you contract a tree surgeon in these months you are bound to be paying up to double what you would in the offseason. Tradesmen quote jobs depending on how much work they have on. If they are going through a lean period, they are likely to give you a cheaper price to win the work and get them through the winter.

Travel costs

Most tradesmen charge travel time or at the very least have a minimum amount they charge for even the smallest work. That amount would not be any less than $100 for an arborist. If you only have a very small job, you are best getting a garden maintenance type contractor as you will find they will charge a lot less for the same job.

This is because they have less expensive equipment, insurance etc.

When to prune your tree

Winter trimming

When pruning in winter you are catching the tree when it is dormant. This is a great idea when doing drastic pruning that involves the removal of greater than 20% of the canopy. Pruning in winter (after the coldest months) allows the tree to adapt to the changes as it slowly reanimates after its hibernation.

Summer prune

Pruning a tree by 10 – 20% in summer is actually a really positive thing for the tree. It frees up more of the stored energy to be spent on new growth and there is less stress on the tree to feed so many limbs during really hot days.


It is extremely difficult to price a tree pruning job over the phone or by pictures. The arborist will need to come out to your property and inspect the job. The price of tree pruning is not just dependent on the tree itself, but the location, access, obstacles and a myriad of other factors.

No, a tree pruning service is able to work without you there just as long as they have access to the tree. They will not need power cables or anything to work. You can have the job done and arrange to pay them after you have come home and inspected the job.

In most cases yes. Most self-respecting arborists will include the waste removal in with the price. There are done dodgy operators out there like in any trade so I would get them to specify on the quote that the waste removal will be included in the pruning cost.

Technically yes, but if you have a qualified arborist doing the work this outcome is very unlikely. If you are attempting to do the work yourself and you cut too much off the tree, at the wrong time of year using the wrong tools and techniques, the tree can go into a state of shock and die. You really do need to know what you are doing.

As a general rule of thumb, trees should be trimmed in winter. The reason for this is mainly to do with the tree’s health. Trees are dormant in winter so removing limbs will be less of a shock to their system. Pests like bora beetles or fungal infections like Oak wilt are also less prevalent in winter which gives your tree time to heal before summer hits.

If your tree is hanging over your neighbour’s yard they are well within their rights to trim your tree, just as long as they are not breaking any tree audience laws in the process. It’s the norm for them to ask your permission first before pruning, but it is not against the law as it is encroaching on their property.

This will depend on the local laws governing tree pruning in your area. Every local council has its own set of tree-trimming laws. In most cases you will be able to trim less than 10% of a tree per year without much issue. Just as long as the work is done by a certified arborist. You will need to refer to the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) for your local council.

Author: Ben McInerney is a qualified arborist with over 15 years of industry experience. He uses his in-depth knowledge of the tree service industry to give readers to most accurate information on tree service costs and helps to educate them about the benefits of using a certified arborist for tree trimming and removal work.