Tree removal costs: A guide from root to branch

Deputy Editor · 30 September 2019
Not only does money not grow on trees, they can end up costing you quite a bit if they need to be removed from your property by a professional. 

That said, the cost of not removing a problem tree could also be significant. If it falls down of its own accord or with the help of a storm, this could end up costing you more than it would have to proactively remove it. 

There are lots of variables, risks and intricate factors to consider when it comes to the cost of tree removal, and if you’re currently struggling to see the wood for the trees, we’ve rounded up some of the main points to help you understand your options.

How much does it cost to remove a tree?

The national average cost of removing a tree in Australia in 2019 is currently about $871, according to GoTreeQuotes, a service that lists local arborists. However, it says that the range of prices for individual jobs can vary wildly – from $350 to $4,500 – depending on the circumstances.

Eddie Jenner, an arborist at Australian Tree Specialists, told Canstar that the location of the tree on your property is a key factor in determining the cost of removing it.

“If the tree is growing over something like a shed or over the back of the house, or if it’s close to service wires, that all contributes to the cost because it takes longer to come down,” he said.

“It pretty much all comes down to time, so for example a tree in the front yard will take less time to remove because there’s less dragging involved. The closer the vehicle and the machinery can get to the tree, the cheaper the job is, generally speaking.”

As an example of potential cost, Mr Jenner said that in his experience a 25-foot (7.6 metre) tree with a one foot (30 centimetre) diameter at the base would cost approximately $750 – $1,000 to remove, but in some metropolitan areas the cost could be higher. He said that homeowners removing multiple trees could potentially save on the removal cost per tree.

However, he warned of the possible risks of some other cost-cutting measures, like making a headstart on the work yourself with the intention of saving the arborist’s time. Removing the lower branches initially could ultimately make it harder for the professionals to do work higher up the tree, for example.

When it comes to some of the other factors that could affect the cost of having a tree removed, GoTreeQuotes suggests they could include:

  • Tree species: Expect to pay more for trees with lots of large branches, such as gum trees.
  • Tree weight: Heavier timbers are generally more labour intensive, and therefore pricier, to remove.
  • Accessibility: Generally speaking, the easier it is for the arborist or other professional to reach the tree, the faster they will be able to remove it.
  • Dangers involved: If the tree is structurally unsound or near power lines, you may face a larger bill.
  • The provider you choose: Depending on the tree and the difficulty involved, a gardening company may be able to assist you with the job. For larger jobs, the services of a professional tree-feller may be required. For even more complex cases, you may need to consult with an arborist for their assessment. The cost of each provider could well be different.

What are the options to finance tree removal?

How the job is financed may depend on how much it costs. There are several options available to consider, including:

  • Personal loan: Depending on your personal circumstances and the cost of the job, you may be able to consider using a personal loan to fund the work. This could be a secured loan, or an unsecured loan. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that interest rates are generally higher for personal loans than for home loans, and it’s a good idea to read the lender’s terms and conditions first. Compare personal loans with Canstar.
  • Credit card: It may also be possible, depending on the cost and your ability to repay the debt quickly, to pay for the job on a credit card. There could be some fringe benefits for doing so, such as extra insurance cover in some cases (read the card’s Product Disclosure Statement to find out the conditions of the cover). Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are typically much higher than home or personal loans, and interest can quickly accumulate on large balances, so it is a good idea to weigh up your options and consider them carefully. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the card’s balance in full each month, it may be worth re-considering whether a credit card is the right option for you. Compare credit cards with Canstar.

→ Renovating a home could change what insurance cover you may need. Compare home and contents insurance providers.

How much does it cost to dispose of a tree?

How much would a wood chuck cost? Well, the good news is that the cost of disposing of a tree is usually included in the cost of its removal, but consider clarifying this up front with whoever is cutting down the tree. Otherwise, you may need to consider the cost of transporting the tree, plus your local council’s waste charges if applicable.

An alternative could be to keep some or all of the wood and use it as fuel for your firepit or fireplace, if you have one, provided you have space to store the wood while it dries out.

Depending on how the tree came down, you can also consider checking your home insurance policy, if you have cover in place. Some policies may cover the removal of ‘debris’ caused by storms or other insured events. However, if a tree falls on your property but doesn’t cause any damage, it’s unlikely your insurer would cover the cost of removing it, nor would they cover the cost of removing a tree you have had cut down.

How much does it cost to remove a tree stump?

Because of the lower level of difficulty and potential danger that’s typically involved in removing a tree stump, it can often be quite a bit cheaper than getting rid of a full tree. Mr Jenner estimates the average cost to be around $150, but again this could vary depending on the situation.

DIY tree removal – is it a good idea?

Depending on the size of the tree and where it’s located, it may be possible to remove it yourself using equipment such as a manual saw or chainsaw, as well the appropriate safety gear like gloves and eye protection etc. 

However, there can be risks associated with DIY tree removal. For example, according to Safe Work Australia, chainsaws are “potentially dangerous” and “can cause fatal or major injuries especially if used by untrained workers”. Even if you are trained to use the necessary equipment, there are also the potential dangers that could be posed by a branch or the main trunk of a tree falling. For example, it could hit a power line or fall on someone or something – a shed or carport for example – either on or outside of your property.

If you have home insurance, then depending on your policy it may cover you for damage caused to your property by a tree or branch that falls as a result of a storm. But you may not be covered if the damage is caused by an intentional tree-felling job gone wrong.

DIY tree removal

Source: Jim Lopes (Shutterstock)

Because of the risks and difficulties that can be involved in removing a tree, some people choose to seek out the services of professional tree specialists,.

Do you need a permit to remove a tree?

The regulations around tree removal and whether permits are required can vary from state to state and even council to council. So it may be worthwhile contacting your local council to check on the regulations in your area before you commence any tree removal work.

In some cases, councils can impose large fines on homeowners who remove trees without a permit. A Sydney woman received a fine of $83,000 for cutting down two native trees on her neighbour’s property without council permission in a well-publicised case in 2018.

Generally speaking, these are some of the factors which may determine whether or not you would need a permit to remove a tree, according to Queensland-based tree removalists JC Tree Services:

  • Tree size: If the tree’s trunk is below a certain circumference, or its height is under a certain level, you may not need a permit to remove it.
  • Species of tree: For example, in many cases, you may need a permit to remove a native tree.
  • Distance from house: If the tree is situated within a certain distance of your house, you may be able to remove it without a permit. This exemption can be particularly common in bushfire- prone areas.

Remember, though, it’s important to check for the specific regulations that apply in your area.

Do you really need to remove the tree?

One of the most effective ways of keeping down the cost of tree removal could be to leave the tree where it is, if that’s an option. In some situations, simply tidying up some of its branches – a process sometimes referred to as tree lopping – can make a tree less prone to leave a mess and obstruct views.

Mr Jenner suggests speaking to an expert for advice before committing to removing a tree altogether.

“I’ve talked people out of removing beautiful big old maple trees by suggesting corrective pruning instead,” he said. 

“By reducing the tree’s canopy, we can reduce the mess it creates and take it off the roof line so it’s less of a risk to the house.”

Tree removal Australia

Source: SherSS (Shutterstock)

Consider, too, the impact that cutting a tree down could have on any wildlife that may be using it as a home.

After all, while it might only take a couple of hours to cut down and remove a mature tree, it could take years, or decades, to grow a new one.


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