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Tree Maintenance Is Cheaper Than You Think


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Tree Maintenance Is Cheaper Than You Think

What is the cost of tree trimming? When you start looking for a Toronto arborist, this is one of the first questions that comes up. 

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 removallarge tree removal coststree 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. 

Neighbourhood Handyman 

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

Certified arborist performing tree pruning and tree maintenance on an oak tree in the beaches, toronto

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

Broken tree branch from a city tree fell on house and blocked sidewalk downtown toronto

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. 

Arborist performing tree maintenance in toronto on an oak tree over house

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.

You can always refer to our pricing guides  on the cost of small tree removallarge tree removal coststree pruning prices and hedge trimming prices

Need a certified arborist to bring value to your trees and property? Don’t wait — contact Vista Tree now for a free quote.

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
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We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
John & Sonja
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They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

They were on time and was the epitome of friendly and cheerful—felt like I had friends over for a garden party!

Overall, their service was excellent at every stage. The inquiry, consultation, customer support, day-of service, follow-up, and payment process were all seamless.

I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
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I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
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Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
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James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
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James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
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Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
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Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
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Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
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Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
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These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
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After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
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These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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