Some people can be caught off guard by the price of tree care, but here’s why tree maintenance is cheaper than you think. This article will give you a brief overview of all the various elements and factors that go into the cost of tree maintenance.
We have a series of more specialized price guides on the cost of small tree removal, large tree removal costs, tree pruning prices and hedge trimming prices. This article will go into why tree maintenance costs less and the mistakes we see homeowners making all the time that increase their short and long term costs dramatically.
What happens when you postpone tree maintenance?
Many arborists’ potential clients show up this way: You see an overhanging branch that looks a bit dangerous, or a nefarious crack in your tree. Time to make a call to an arborist!
You get a few quotes from some reputable tree care companies but it’s a lot more than you expected. Never mind! Maybe next year will be the time.
Next year passes by, and a few more. Before you know it, the tree issue has gotten much bigger.
You call an arborist again, and now the tree maintenance cost you’re looking at makes those initial tree quotes look like a deal Honest Ed would be proud of. Occasionally, homeowners don’t know until they contact an arborist again just how bad it got.
What happened? Is inflation that high?
What are the consequences of putting off tree care?
One unfortunate consequence of putting off tree maintenance to save some money is that the tree problem doesn’t go away. It gets worse. As the tree gets bigger or the problem festers, the complications grow and the cost of fixing your tree goes up.
This might mean that a small pruning job becomes a big one, or a somewhat hazardous tree becomes an emergency removal. The biggest problem for potential buyers is that they won’t have an idea of the scope of the problem until it’s too late to come up with a solution – and a budget.
Penny-wise, dollar foolish solutions to tree care costs
When the cost starts increasing, everyone looks for a way to save some money on tree care. Often, this means trying to find the cheapest option to make the problem go away.
Sometimes this is going to work out just fine. Other times, it is creating a big risk. For one, tree work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Allowing someone to work on your property without insurance, training and safety gear is a recipe for disaster – because you’ll be held liable.
The second issue is that you’re unlikely to get good results. People with no knowledge of tree science or training don’t know how to cut trees to minimize damage. We see tree problems made worse everyday by untrained, helpful people or unskilled labourers posing as arborists.
Risks when the price is low but the cost is high
“‘With hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars at stake…make sure that you take your time in deciding which company you should hire,’ warns Peter Gerstenberger, director of safety and education for the Tree Care Industry Association. ‘Disreputable companies are renowned for ripping gutters off, breaking fences and bird baths, and even dropping trees on houses.”
These companies or individuals won’t have insurance, meaning you could be held liable if anything happens on your property. Industry associations can point you in the direction of certified local arborists.
Neighbour’s Kid (or a friend of a friend of a…)
We love an underdog story, after all, we are a small, local business. But a neighbour’s kid is the last person you want to get hurt or to have damage your property.
Don’t believe us? Check out our section on neighbour tree problems.
Another example of good intentions leading to potentially bad outcomes. There have been some pretty spectacular stories of local handymen damaging trees in the past few years.
Be sure you know what you’re getting and what you’re not.
Fly-by night operators and questionable companies
Our favourite recent example of the worst of the tree care industry in Toronto is a blog post written by a lawyer. It’s a true story about a tree cutter drinking on the job and the legal issues it raises for the homeowner.
Regular Tree Maintenance Costs
The good news is that regular maintenance of a tree is usually quite affordable!
Pruning is an effective way to keep your tree in good health. Pruning by a certified arborist can help shape the tree attractively and ensure healthy branch growth.
The TCIA says, “Studies published in the Journal of Arboriculture have demonstrated that it is actually cheaper to regularly prune trees rather than neglecting them, and cleaning up the resulting damage!”
Pruning young trees can help create a healthy form for life, keeping costs down through a tree’s life cycle. Fertilizing trees is also a very cost-effective tree care method. Usually, this is done in the fall, spring, or both.
Fertilizer helps restore nutrients to urban trees, allowing them to fight off infection, stay healthy in the dormant winter season, and store nutrients for the growing season or recover those lost in the growing season. It’s an easy and cheaper way to care for trees in a city.
The Cost of Tree Damage
If problems are left to develop in a tree, the risks can compound. While a damaged tree may survive a couple of seasons, the damaged tree or branches can be the first to go during a bad wind storm, thunderstorm, or ice storm.
Property Damage is a Huge Pain – and cost
You then risk damage to other property: your roof, house, garage, car, deck, shed, or neighbours’ property. Besides the heartbreak, stress, and inconvenience of these, your home insurance can also refuse to cover costs if they find out you knew about a tree issue and did nothing. That’s not to even mention the risk of injury to people or pets.
When a tree dies faster than you expected
Any damaged areas leave a whole tree more vulnerable to infection and disease, meaning your tree’s condition can degrade faster if you’re hit by a pest or fungal infestation, increasing the risks of damage in bad weather (and even good).
Your time (and ours!) is valuable too. When a tree problem, or regular maintenance is straightforward, tree care is usually quick and efficient.
When the price goes up
When a tree’s condition worsens, costs can go up for many reasons: the scale of the job becomes larger (removing a full tree instead of one or two limbs), the tree’s condition becomes more precarious, putting arborists at greater risk and requiring us to spend more time implementing additional safety precautions and moving more slowly, more specialized equipment may be needed, adding extra costs to the bill.
Case Study: Putting Off Tree Maintenance
We faced this issue with one job last summer: most of the tree could be removed in parts by our arborists climbing into the tree if we completed the job now.
However, if we waited, like the client was considering, the tree would become too dangerous to climb and would need to be removed by crane. In this case, the property had awkward access on a hill, backing onto a major street. To use a crane to remove the entire tree would have meant blocking off the street to do the work.
Cranes cost a lot to begin with, and as a Torontonian, you can imagine that permits to block off major thoroughfares don’t come easily or cheaply. By acting now on taking care of the tree, the client saved themselves tens of thousands: no small deal, even if you’re a business with deeper pockets than the average homeowner!
Conclusion: Tree maintenance is often cheaper
While the costs of tree care vary widely depending on the type and size of tree, its location, condition, and the number of trees you need work done on, the math is right that keeping your trees in good shape is more affordable than waiting for damage to happen.
Need a certified arborist to bring value to your trees and property? Don’t wait — contact Vista Tree now for a free quote.