top of page

How much does an arborist cost?

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

So you're think of calling an arborist but worried about the cost? Unfortunately, it’s not something that you can easily google and get a fixed price for, but in this article we will cover the real COST of an arborist, what goes into that cost, false economies and trying to save money.

What is an arborist?

An arborist is:

“a specialist in the cultivation and care of trees and shrubs, including tree surgery, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tree diseases, and the control of pests.”

There is a vast difference between an arborist and a ‘tree guy’ or even handyman/gardener. A qualified arborist will have undergone (often years) of training and, will have an understanding of tree work from a scientific perspective as well as a practical, health and safety centred skill base.

The quality of work produced by a trained arborist will usually be noticeably different to that of someone who simply ‘cuts trees’. In the example of pruning, careful work methods with attention to tree species and traits, growth points, tree defects, wind loading, and aesthetics will produce great results and often help trees to outlive their potential if left untouched.

In the case of tree removals, a trained arborist will use skill and expertise to dismantle or fell a tree with minimal impact to it’s surroundings. We often hear from our clients that they had another company in, who were ‘bouncing limbs off of the roof of our house’ or caused damage to fixtures such as spouting, fences or the garden shed!

What goes into the cost?

There are many, many costs which business incur which all add together to cover the cost of your job. Some of these are fixed costs which companies have to pay, such as office and work premises, equipment costs (machinery, tools, protective equipment), wages, ACC levy’s, insurance, training, administration. Some of these costs are directly associated with the job itself – such as waste fees, travel and other services required (eg. cranes, traffic management, electrical shut downs, permits). It all adds up quickly, and whilst it the cost may often appear much higher than expected, please consider what goes into that price. Also note, that to operate in a way which adheres to health and safety protocols, when climbing is involved we must have two appropriately trained workers on site, in case of an aerial injury, so that there is some adequately skilled available to perform a rescue - even working on the ground with chainsaws requires two qualified first aiders.

False economies and trying to save money

Occasionally we get asked, either during or after quoting if we can leave the waste for our clients to deal with in order to save cost. On some jobs, such as simple tree felling operations (at ground level) this can save huge costs – especially if waste can be disposed of on site. In other cases, there is a false economy. This is usually when climbing is involved – there is a huge health and safety risk in having the ground covered in debris. Trapped ropes can mean a climber has no option to descend to the ground in the event of an emergency, and also piles of brush pose a trip hazard to persons working on the ground, impeding their work process. It is quite common for clients to think it will be cheaper if we drag the debris out of the way, but usually it is more time efficient to simply process waste through a wood chipper. This request is even more uneconomical if the client has to pay to

dispose of the waste after!

It’s not unheard of for clients to ask us if we’ll complete the job and receive firewood logs as payment – any professional business will tell you that this is totally unrealistic, and the wood itself usually has little or no value. All of the value in firewood is added by splitting, seasoning and delivering firewood, which adds costs in itself. This is often a huge false economy for companies!

Unprofessional practices such as ‘topping’ often leads to long term risks, tree health problems, and often premature tree death. A tree can add much value to a property in the right situation, and we often hear from clients ‘we bought the property because of that tree’; poor pruning can turn an asset into a liability.

It’s also worth noting that the risk of injury to contractors and the public is likely to increase when employing companies using untrained staff.

So what do good arborists actually charge (New Zealand)?

Well in our experience, a professional arborist company will usually charge in the range of $75 – $100 per person per hour (excluding GST). When you consider that arborists almost exclusively work as a minimum team of 2 people, that’s $150-200 + GST per hour for a team with equipment to tackle most tasks and dispose of the bulk of the waste created. Companies with large equipment will likely charge a great deal more, but there are efficiencies that come with this. In short, regardless of the scale of equipment used, most companies will quote similar costs to complete a job. Some companies are geared towards pruning and small scale work, some are more suited to large tree removals and clearance work. Have realistic expectations and remember, you always get what you pay for!

If you have any other question or what to talk to us about your tree management options don’t hesitant to contact us:

Call us on 0800 873 353

Follow us on Facebook @treelandsnz



bottom of page