Cheap Tree Service: Why it Costs You More in the Long Run

It’s tempting to hire a tree service at very cheap rates, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But should you? The answer is a resounding “no!” – although probably not for the reasons you may expect.

It’s frustrating to see people choose cheap tree service instead of hiring certified arborists and trained, professional tree care experts. As arborists, we know what’s likely in store for the trees – and the homeowner’s wallet (we’re often called in to clean up the mess). But the reason behind that poor decision isn’t a mystery to us. It’s usually for one reason:


In fact, it’s the reason for many choices we make when we buy something. But when it comes to tree care, it’s not usually the best measure of value.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Why a low-priced bid for tree work isn’t always the best deal
  • What you should consider when you’re looking for tree service companies
  • What can happen when you hire cheap tree trimmers or low-cost tree removal services
  • The hidden costs of using a cheap tree service company

Why hiring a cheap tree service isn’t a good value

Inexpensive tree service isn’t automatically going to be bad. But a tree service company that underbids other companies may be cutting important corners or using bad tree-care practices that a homeowner can’t be expected to know about.

When you’re looking to hire a tree care company, pay attention to the scope of work a company offers. If their bid doesn’t spell out exactly what they’re going to do and how they will do it, you may end up with a frustratingly incomplete job.

It’s not rude or insulting to ask a tree service to explain to you how they will work and what they will do while they work on your trees. An experienced, professional company will be glad to explain their services and why they are important.

You’ll want to avoid these common headaches that happen when you hire a “quick and dirty” tree service:

  • Damage to your yard or home from careless or unsafe work (that you may be liable for if the tree company doesn’t carry the right insurance)
  • Debris that’s left behind or that falls onto your neighbors’ properties
  • Extra charges for services that weren’t included in the quote, such as chipping or disposing of green waste
  • Bad pruning cuts that cause lasting damage or, worst of all, tree topping

PRO TIP: If you’re getting multiple bids for your tree pruning or removal, get them in writing and compare each one.

Should you pay more than the average cost of tree work?

You’ve probably seen Google listings showing the “average cost for tree removal near me” or “average price for tree trimming in Winston Salem.” But don’t be fooled. That “average” cost isn’t a good guide to follow because it lumps together tree jobs of all types and sizes, as well as tree service companies with a wide range of experience and skills.

There’s never one single price for tree service; each customer’s tree and setting are unique. A tree care professional will evaluate and treat each tree according to its needs and its location. For example, a tree in a hard-to-reach location will take more time and equipment to prune or remove than one right next to the curb. It will therefore cost more to do the work.

Average costs for tree care in Winston-Salem will also encompass a range of tree care workers, some who are certified arborists with professional-grade equipment and thorough safety practices, and some who are “tree guys” with a pickup truck and no formal training. When it comes to caring for your valuable trees, you can’t compare these or expect the same results.

Trees that were previously topped are growing water sprouts, thin branches that are a tree's desperate attempt to survive.

Trees that were previously topped are growing water sprouts, thin branches that are a tree’s desperate attempt to survive. This can lead to more pruning and many tree health issues down the road.

What you really get when you choose cheap tree service

In blunt terms, cheap tree service often means terrible work. The worst thing anyone can do to a tree is topping, but you’ll find plenty of low-cost tree trimmers that see nothing wrong with topping.

This damaging and often fatal practice is not done by professional and certified arborists. If you’re considering a tree service that offers to top your trees or mentions topping as a solution, do not hire them!

Tree topping is the calling card of untrained “tree trimmers” who do not understand how trees grow. An uninformed homeowner who doesn’t know why tree topping is bad won’t learn until afterward that they’ve made a mistake, and often a fatal (and expensive!) one.

Why you’ll often end up paying more for cheap tree care

Topping, along with other bad tree care, always results in a damaged, disfigured tree that may never recover its natural form. You will often end up needing to pay for corrective tree work or even have the tree cut down and removed. In both cases, it will cost you far more than having the job done right the first time.

When you have a certified arborist evaluate your trees, he or she will immediately spot any poor tree trimming or pruning that’s been done. An arborist will explain to you why they need to correct past bad pruning and what they can and cannot do to repair the damage.

You may be unpleasantly surprised at how much you’ll end up spending if you first pay for cheap work and then for professional work to correct it. It’s better to pay once for good quality, professional tree services.

Beaver Tree Care employee in the bucket of a bucket truck next to a tree during a tree removal job

Proper equipment, training, safety measures, and the correct insurance and licensing will increase the overall price of a tree removal or pruning, but those same things will save you money in the long run.

Why is good tree care more expensive?

You might want to ask why poor tree care is so cheap! Arborists and professional tree services have a lot of costs to pay. Tree pruning and removal are skilled, dangerous work and you’ll need (and want) a company that:

  • Carries liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance
  • Has certified arborists and pays for training and certification
  • Has safe, well-maintained vehicles and equipment
  • Provides safety gear and safety training to all crew members
  • Abides by local ordinances for permits, waste disposal, and licenses.

The price you’ll pay for a company’s services includes their costs for these things, and you’ll end up better off with them. A “guy with a truck” won’t cover costs for accidental damage —or may not be able to pay for them. Instead, it will be you who will spend time and money trying to get compensation.

Remember too that arborists are professionals and are bound by a code of professional ethics. You can expect careful, professional work that doesn’t damage your trees.

Can’t I save money by doing tree work myself?

If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider doing your own tree pruning (or even cutting down a tree), especially if you’re an accomplished DIY’er. We can’t emphasize enough what a bad idea this is. In addition to knowing how to make proper pruning cuts, you need to understand how dangerous climbing and working in a tree is.

Tree work is classified as one of the most dangerous professions in the USA and for good reason! You can read more about how and why you should hire a professional tree service (and why you shouldn’t do it yourself) in this article.

Why is quality tree work worth it?

In North Carolina, anyone can call themself a tree trimmer or a tree worker and have no qualifications or training. This means you may be hiring someone who says they can prune or remove your trees but who has no skills, experience, or ability.

There’s one way to avoid this, and that’s to ask for their International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) arborist’s certification. Or you can check for yourself using the ISA’s “Find an Arborist” service. You’ll find all the certified arborists in North Carolina, including those in the Winston-Salem area (look for Beaver Tree Service – you’ll find us on the list).

We Can Help

We’re proud of our record of professional work and satisfied customers. All we do is care for trees and we’d be happy to care for yours, too.

If you’re thinking about getting tree work done, give us a call and we’ll evaluate your trees. You’ll get honest, sound advice, and we will never suggest any tree work that isn’t beneficial or necessary. And if you want to compare bids for tree care, we’ll explain in understandable detail exactly what you’ll get from Beaver Tree Service – and why it’s worth it.