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How Much Does an Arborist Cost?

Last Updated Apr 18, 2016 · Written by Craig Gibson

If you need a tree removed, pruned, strengthened or transplanted, or have another tree-related task to tackle, an arborist or tree service is the expert to call. But how much does an arborist cost? And do arborists’ rates depend on the job performed?

This article will help you figure out:

  • what services an arborist provides
  • what to look for when hiring an arborist
  • what their service may cost

An arborist receives safety training as part of their studies and qualifications. © Arbor Bizz Tree Services

What do arborists do?

Arborists or tree services can carry out a range of tasks, including:

Tree removal: this is one of the most common services arborists provide, removing dead or dangerous large trees from your property.

Tree stump removal: an old tree stump is not only unsightly, it can also attract termites to your property.

Tree consulting: this is a dedicated service arborists provide, which may include surveying trees on your property for safety concerns or producing a tree report for your local council.

Tree pruning: an arborist can provide this service to either keep your trees in good health, or to remove dead branches for safety reasons.

Tree surgery: arborists can assist in nursing your diseased tree back to health or providing advice on how you can.

Read: How to know when a big tree becomes a problem

Stump grinding machine in action.

Does my arborist need to be licensed?

Arborists do not require a licence in any state or territory. You should ensure they have:

  • valid public liability insurance
  • a relevant qualification such as a Certificate II in Horticulture (Arboriculture) for ground and climbing work; and/or
  • a Certificate III in Horticulture (Arboriculture) for supervisors of climbing work.
  • Membership of a recognised professional associations such as Arboriculture Australia is also desirable as members are likely to be up to date with developments in their field.

How much does an arborist cost?

Most arborists charge according to an hourly rate. This varies according to the size of the tree and complexity of the job. Arborists may charge more if the site is hard to access or if a team of arborists are required.

If the arborist needs to use a variety of equipment, this can also increase their rate. Generally, basic stump grinding ranges from $70 per hour, while complicated jobs such as tree pruning with a truck hoist can cost $170 an hour or more.
#hiptip a number of factors determine the cost of tree removal, including the size of the tree and ease of access

How much does tree removal cost?

The average price of tree removal ranges from $300 to over $10,000, with an average of $1,000. Price depends on a number of factors, including:

  • size of the tree
  • ease of access to the tree
  • proximity of the tree to buildings or utility lines

Dedicated equipment is often needed to carry out larger jobs, such as large tree removal. © Arbor Bizz Tree Services

How much is an arborist report?

Some councils require an arborist report be lodged before trees are removed from your property. This must stipulate the types of trees being removed, the trees being retained and how the arborist’s work will impact neighbouring properties. Your arborist will be able to complete the report and may even lodge it with council for you. This is to protect historical or indigenous trees from being cut down indiscriminately. You are liable to a significant fine if approvals have not been obtained.

Expect to pay in the region of:

  • $75-$100 for one to five trees
  • $20-$25 for each additional tree
  • $35 for a submission to council fee
You may also have to pay to have the stump removed and debris cleaned up. When these charges are combined with removal of a tree, the cost is likely to be around $2000 to $6000 per tree. Other services will be quoted at a different rate.

And while it may be tempting to remove a tree yourself, it’s safer to hire a qualified arborist.

#hiptip: You can be fined for removing a tree without council permission - check before chop

Comparing quotes from arborists

When you get quotes from arborists, ensure you understand what’s been included and excluded. Is the use of equipment included? How many arborists will be needed? Can they prepare and submit an arborist report to council on your behalf? Also ensure the arborist is fully insured for worker’s compensation and public liability. They should also be fully qualified and be happy to provide references or examples of work.

The best way of finding out the cost of your project is to get quotes from local arborists. This will give you a sense of what market rates currently are. 

* All the costs and prices quoted were sourced at the time this article was written. They are indicative, may vary locally, are subject to market forces and should only be used as a guide.
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