View Full Version : Tree Trimming

03-31-2003, 01:57 AM
I'm considering going into tree trimming, once I can afford a decent trailer. It seems like I could make more money at it. I would appreciate advice from anyone with experience in tree trimming.

03-31-2003, 07:19 AM
Try this site. I have asked these fellows a couple of questions in the past and they help me everytime.


03-31-2003, 08:59 AM
PROPER tree pruning begins with knowledge. Take courses in arboriculture and tree biology BEFORE attempting tree trimming.

03-31-2003, 10:24 AM
Are you talking just simple trimming from the ground or do you mean actually getting in the serious, professional side of it. If it is the latter, there are a lot of things to consider. Have you climbed trees professionally before? Pros don't use ladders. They use ropes, harnesses and saddles. Most of them also have large chippers that they pull with 1 ton enclosed box trucks that they shoot the chips into. Then there is the insurance issue. This a much more dangerous job than mowing lawns so the insurance is a lot higher. And as menchofer said, it takes training and knowledge.
This is why I sub out all of my major tree work. They can do it cheaper for me than it would cost me to rent a chipper for the day.

03-31-2003, 08:12 PM
I was just in Milford, CT today to look at bucket trucks. Brand new starts at about $80,000 and I was hearing about people spending over $200,000 for them. About all a trailer will help you with is moving a skid steer or stump grinder. New chipper can be anywhere from $20,000 - $80,000 depending on engine sizes and options.

Menchofer is right though, start by reading books. There are a TON that you can read which are good, but really nothing beats working under an experienced climber for a while.

03-31-2003, 11:14 PM
Thanks for the advice. Seems like it is something that would require some advance planning and research to do it right. As far as the large trucks and chippers, I don't think it would be neccesary to buy $300K worth of equipment to get started. I'm sure there are some tree-trimming services that do not have all that stuff, although it could certainly be done faster. I talked to a customer about an estimate she had to remove a rather small tree, for about $700-$800. I'm sure the job would be quick with a larger truck and a chipper, but I'm sure it could be done with a chainsaw and a trailer. Even with 4 trips to the dump at a cost of $80, and $20 worth of fuel, the job could be done in 2 days, if I was really slow, at about $300 a day minimum, or 1 day, if I was fast, for $600-$700. And cutting down a tree doesn't require much education.

03-31-2003, 11:33 PM

PLEASE, join www.arboristsite.com and read up on there, and talk to people on there before you try doing tree work on your own. A tree for $700 - $800 while not HORRIBLE, is not going to be a walk in the park either. Please, also keep in mind that getting the tree to the ground doesn't take as long as it does to get it cleaned up. What you see from the ground is a LOT less than what you get once its all down on the ground.

I don't mean to sound like an *****, but a lot of people have been dieing lately in the tree business, and I would hate to hear about you being one of those people.

04-01-2003, 07:25 AM
You guys sound like a bunch of tea drinking old ladies. "please be careful", "are you aware this is dangerous"? Hey, he is a grown man and I am sure he knows by now that falling from a tree can be dangerous, or chainsaws can be dangerous. Give the guy a break and tell him something that might help him.

04-01-2003, 09:42 AM
With all due respect, these guys are not a bunch of "tea drinking old ladies" They have been in the tree care industry for many years and are trying to be helpful by pointing out the realities of our work. Have you ever watched a good climber in action? They make it look so easy, so effortless. Have you ever tried to climb professionally? It's a different story, it requires training, and not the kind you can get by reading a book. You have to realize tree care is very different in the fact that what the customer wants may not be what is best for the overall health of the tree. Most people can be shown what is best and will decide to do that and be happier in the long run when the property value stays high because of properly maintained trees, not lowers because a hack butchered them. Please realize we are trying to be helpful by pointing out the realities of the industry. Lawnmowerman, if you are serious about getting into tree care, that is great! An easy starting point is www.arboristsite.com Go there, and start getting educated. One of the sponsors of that site puts on excellent training, which i would highly recommend.

04-01-2003, 05:43 PM

04-01-2003, 06:15 PM
And cutting down a tree doesn't require much education.

LOL!! You think not huh? First of all, it's alot different messing up doing tree work, than cutting grass. Second of all if you are going to charge $300. a day for cutting down trees, give me your number please. I could make a fortune off you! Are you going to grind the stump for that $300. too? Is that $300 going to cover your liability, and workers comp insurance, plus dumping fees? What are you planning on doing just cutting the base of the tree and dropping it? Man take some advise and look into what you are doing first. Tree removal, trimming, pruning etc. requires tree climbing skills, knowing what knots to use, learning how to sling branches, proper cuts, proper chainsaws, proper chains, etc. If you don't know enough about something then don't get involved till you do. I have known experienced people who fell out of trees. Don't go and kill a market you know nothing about! :dizzy:

04-01-2003, 06:53 PM
Amen. As the bumper sticker says, Hire an Arborist..let Tom, Dick and Harry cut the grass..

04-01-2003, 07:22 PM
Lawn Mower,

I think your views of the tree cutting biz as being very easy are incorrect....

first off if your cut a lawn and clipping fall on the ground .. not a bit of damage...but if you cut down a tree near electric or a house ... then you could have either a large bill or your family could be stuck with the bills....

actually there was a story in the Milford area of a tree guy that made a fatal mistake and was split in half not too long ago... this was a guy if I remember that knew what he was doing too....

if you look into just the insurance for a tree guy... who carries probably a $5million dollar policy.... and I know that is not $250 ...
your probably looking at something like $4500 or so...
it may look like not much involved, but there is more than what you see to the eye.

since you cut grass... do you cut lawns with a acres yards with 21" mower... yes it can be done... it will take longer... but you buy the right equipment for the right job....

Any tree can be cut down with a ax, but would you do the job with one to save the expense of the right equipment....

chain saw, chipper, ropes, safety gear, crew,

proper plan and due diligence is always needed....

I have neighbor who has been doing it for years... he probably has $500,000 to $850,000 worth of equipment.... and that could be on the light side....

do the research.. talk to someone in the business ... think about it plan your work, work your plan


04-01-2003, 09:05 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by fblandscape
[B]I was just in Milford, CT today to look at bucket trucks. Brand new starts at about $80,000 and I was hearing about people spending over $200,000 for them

My nieghbor just got one for 3000.00 the body was a little rough, but the engine is great, and the boom lift worked great
. He spent about 500.00 in prep work and welding here and there, painted it himself. Someone offered him 6000.00 for it the other day.There are good deals out there, you just have to look.

We dropped a huge tree last weekend. It was a wide spread 50 fter..Had the utility co. come out and disconnect power lnes, and off we went. took us 3 hours including chipping for 500.00payup

Lawnmowerman there is alot of money in tree work, but as the others have said if your trimming and not dropping it does take schooling...Well even if your dropping trees you better know what your doing. It is a lot of work, and the equipment isn't cheap. The insurance is outrageous! You can make a ton of money though.

If you are just trimming, an extension ladder with a limber will work ok. You can load up a tailer with the limbs an haul it off to the dump, but its alot easier to chip it all. Up here people will ask for the chips and you can usually get a few bucks for them.

I see your from my hometown, wood chips are not really high in demand if I recall, unless they are mesquite.;):drinkup:

04-01-2003, 09:11 PM
Would the boom pass a safety inspection?

Tim Gardner
04-01-2003, 10:56 PM
Originally posted by bastalker

If you are just trimming, an extension ladder with a limber will work ok.


04-02-2003, 02:25 AM
Well, I appreciate the advice. I didn't say it was easy to cut down a tree, I just said it didn't require education. The tree is not growing over the roof, and I was going to start cutting the tree from the top down, to cut it down safely. Now, I admit that I would have to use a ladder, which some of you say is not a great idea, but I have done this before. Whoever said that it looks easier before you cut it down is right, and I know this firsthand. I guess my point was that $700-$800 would cover the work involved. Maybe this would be more obvious if you could see the size of the tree, but I don't have a digital camera. Anyway, I guess this one job I'm considering is really not the main point of my post, but maybe something that made me wonder if tree trimming could be more profitable than cutting grass. I think this question has been answered for me, that yes, the money is good, but it's certainly not easy, and if I want to do this I need to learn what I'm doing in order to be safe and trim the trees properly. And, while I am aware of some of the risks of cutting trees, I am thankful that safety measures were dicussed here. I have trimmed a few trees in the past, upon customers requests, and I quit because I underbid the jobs (because it does look easier than it is) and I almost fell off an extension ladder on one occasion, because the branch we had tied off, while trimming over the roof swung down and hit the ladder. I definitely don't want to repeat that experience, so I can see why people climb the tree rather than use ladders.

04-02-2003, 06:35 AM
Originally posted by Tim Gardner

Let me back up....I meant to say step ladder. Thanx for the insight tim..:)

04-02-2003, 08:26 AM
This is what happens when you trim trees with a ladder.

04-02-2003, 07:05 PM
Our tree crew gets no less than $1200.00 a day with (1) climber and (3) grounds people.
When we use the bucket... out price goes up to $1800.00 for the day.

These prices do NOT incl. stump grinding.

04-02-2003, 09:08 PM
Bryan. You gotta get your rates up man. You're not even getting $40 per man hour. I know of climbers who make anywhere from $200 - $500 per day.

04-02-2003, 09:36 PM
Yeah we have climbers getting from 120 - 200 per day.

04-02-2003, 10:28 PM
Have any of the landscapers that are thinking about tree work recieved quotes on workman's comp yet? how about genral liability? There is a reason we get what we get.

04-04-2003, 12:20 AM
Actually, that photo above is what can happen when the wrong tree is pruned with an unsecured ladder.

I've seen 2 ladders of 24' each tied end to end up a tree before - that's even worse.

But almost every qualified tree service in Portland, Oregon has ladders. Especially orchard ladders.

First about the truck and trailer thing - I have a friend, a Certified Arborist, that has the largest tree service in Bloomington, Indiana.

He knows trees and he know climbing - even crane work.

When I met him in Portland, he came from Georgia and started out of a pickup truck. In short time, he had a truck and chipper. In another short time, he had a crew and was the fastest growing tree company in Portland, Oregon.

The important issue is:

1. Do you want to prune trees? If so, you don't have to be a tree service. Or, you can work toward that. But you can still get into pruning.

2. Learn about trees and shrubs. The ISA Certified Arborist path is a good path. But its not the only path. Its about the only one you will hear from the ISA guys, but its still very professional.

Some colleges, as here in Portland, offer degrees in Landscape Management and Technology. These can include 4 times the plant ID that the Certified Arborist test deals with. Also, the college classes teach Tree Care, Tree Pruning, Evaluation, Horticulture, Pesticides, etc..

Usually, an Associate Degreed person from a horticulture college, will be capable of passing tests for both landscaping, and the ISA test.

Now the ISA test does require 3 years of experience, so school alone will not get you around that.

Climbing is not something to learn on your own.

On the other hand, its not something you have to do. Most of the good small independent arborists are glad to climb and drop for you - meaning subcontract. Especially if they know that you are properly carrying out your end of your work.

So you could prune small shrubs and trees, and sub the big stuff. Just work your way in tiny increments, so you learn what it takes to clean up.

But if its going to work out right - with professional quality, and arborists willing to do high stuff for you - get educated.

We also have some tree care advice at www.mdvaden.com

The hazard trees button is obvious. What takes a speck of effort to find, is the Tree Care Advice that opens from within the Advice page. It opens into the landscape part, but you need to click the Tree Care in the blue box at the top of the page.

That's not a substitute for formal training. But its a small tool, added for home owner and community education for our local area.

04-04-2003, 12:40 AM

Thanks, that was probably the most informative post so far. Maybe it would be good to try to work for tree service and get some "hands-on" experience, as well as some education.

04-04-2003, 08:20 AM
Enjoy picking your path.

Tree Service is the most common route. My path was a bit out of the ordinary. I was a greenskeeper that enjoyed pruning more that the rest on the crews. So I took what I learned in college and from books and applied it at work. I pruned 1 entire golf course 3 years in a row. Then another - PGA quality - about 25% of it, on another year. Then I did pruning at 2 university campuses at a horticulturist. Then another golf course hired me on staff to prune their whole golf course.

My college taught us about 500 plants and trees for ID which far exceeded Certified Arborist needs. And the tree classes were taught by a Consulting Arborist, covering all the pruning and tree related information that would be needed at that time for an ISA test.

I never got the ISA certification, since my particular landscape certification exceeded the Certified Arborist certification by leaps and bounds- covering that tree end, plus landscaping.

But in recent times, the ISA certification has grown so to speak, so I am planning to get it this year too. It won't really help me prune much better; I'm constantly getting compliments on my pruning by ISA arborists. But the ISA is an excellent organization, and I'd be happy to have their certification in addition to the other one.

04-06-2003, 10:42 AM
Hey guys, it took me the last 10 years to get fast and proficient at treeclimbing. we make it look easy, but while you are hanging from a rope with a screaming saw 50' off the ground, manuevering 500# pieces of wood, that is as close to suicide as it gets. we lose a lot of good people all the time.

Please be safe, think all your actions thru when cutting a tree, and don't hesitate to back off and ask for advice.

There are freelance climbers like me everywhere who would be glad to put em on the ground for you, and since you're paying, ask questions. Learn firsthand.

underestimating a tree is easy, overestimating yourself is deadly.

04-06-2003, 11:18 AM
I think maybe a name change first would be good. Trailer Trash Tree Service, sounds nice. I started doing tree work 3 years ago. Had some great days>$1700 per day with 3 men dump and chipper. Some bad days> took out power for about 3 hours in 1.5 towns, including my own home. It ain't just cutting some branches and loading them on a trailer. Never gamble at any game you can't play. I am a total arborist snob, now. I hate to see companies topping trees and using uneducated judgements, just to recieve a check.