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Tips on Hiring the Best Tree Trimmer

David has owned a house for over 10 years and has extensive knowledge on maintaining the safety and security of a home.

A Mulberry tree before and after it was trimmed.

A Mulberry tree before and after it was trimmed.

Avocado tree in the background, with a snippet of a Mulberry tree towards the front.  Neither tree has been trimmed in over a year, if not more.

Avocado tree in the background, with a snippet of a Mulberry tree towards the front. Neither tree has been trimmed in over a year, if not more.

Pruning And Trimming Trees

When you first move into a house or open a business, you may not realize you need to keep your trees trimmed. I know when I purchased my house, I had no idea I would have to get my trees trimmed on a yearly basis. I let them grow out over the course of three years. However, to keep your trees looking nice, as well as prevent a messy yard, keeping your trees trimmed as needed is the way to go.

So how do you determine which tree trimmer you should hire? How can you tell an experienced one from an inexperienced one? Tree trimmers are everywhere, and you must figure out the best one to hire for your needs.

This article will cover the following:

  • Hiring a licensed tree trimmer.
  • Hiring an unlicensed tree trimmer.
  • Tips on hiring a tree trimmer.
  • Why you should get your trees trimmed.
  • My experiences on hiring a tree trimmer.
  • Before and after pictures of having my trees trimmed.

Licenses and Credentials of Tree Trimmers

Found on the webpage of a tree trimmer, listing their credentials and license number.

Found on the webpage of a tree trimmer, listing their credentials and license number.

Hiring a Licensed Tree Trimmer

Hiring a licensed tree trimmer is usually the way to go if you want to get your trees trimmed in a professional and legal manner. Keep in mind the following when shopping around for a licensed tree trimmer:

  • They are licensed through a government agency. If you ask the company what their license number is, they will provide it to show that they are licensed through a government agency. Most times, you can go online to look up the license status to verify they are legitimate, to see if they have done anything wrong, etc.
  • They will cost you more money. License fees, insurance, etc. all play a part in the price of a licensed tree trimmer. That significantly raises prices. So be prepared to pay a lot more when hiring a licensed tree trimmer. But if something goes wrong, you have their insurance to fall back on.
  • Verify they know what they are talking about. Different trees require different needs. Some need to be trimmed all the way back, some not so much. So look up your information and ask questions of the tree trimmer. They should be able to identify the tree and what can be done to it.
  • Explore alternatives. A Mulberry tree is known for dropping hundreds of sticky mulberries. That is one reason to get a Mulberry tree trimmed back as much as possible. However, there are chemicals that can kill the berries before they grow. I had one tree trimmer recommend it, while another did not. Explore the alternatives for your trees. Trimming them may not be the answer.
  • Look at their website. Most companies will have a website online. It will list their license number, what their specialties are, and usually pictures of work they have done. You can compare that to other companies and have a better idea of what the company does before giving them a call.

Hiring an Unlicensed Tree Trimmer

Another route you can go is to hire a tree trimmer that is unlicensed. If you wish to do that, you should be aware of the dangers. There are more cons than pros when choosing this route:

  • They are a lot cheaper than licensed tree trimmers. Since they don't have to worry about a license, insurance, etc. their prices can be much, much lower. This allows you to save money on getting your trees trimmed, or allow you to get it trimmed much more often.
  • They are uninsured. Most times unlicensed tree trimmers don't have a license to do any type of work. So if something happens to them while they are trimming your trees, or to your home, then you could be out a lot of money pay for damages.
  • You never know what you are going to get. When you hire an unlicensed tree trimmer it is primarily through word of mouth. Someone could recommend that they are good, but they may not be. You have no idea if they are good or not until they do the job.
  • You can't complain about their work. If they do a bad job in trimming your trees, there is nothing you can do about it. There is no one to complain to. It's your word against theirs if you decide to press a lawsuit. The first question asked would be why you didn't hire a licensed contractor in the first place.
  • More than likely you are breaking the law. Unlicensed tree trimmers get paid under the table, which means they probably don't pay taxes on those earnings. Usually there are laws against that type of practice.

Licensed Versus Unlicensed Tree Trimmer

Highlights of hiring a licensed tree trimmer versus an unlicensed tree trimmer.

Licensed Tree TrimmerUnlicensed Tree Trimmer





Large variety to hire from.

Can only find through word of mouth.

Can provide credentials.

Can't provide credentials.

Can be held responsible for their actions.

Usually can't be held accountable if they mess up.

Legal way to go.

Can be illegal to do if paid under the table.

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Tips on Hiring a Tree Trimmer

Below are some general tips when deciding what tree trimmer to hire, licensed or unlicensed:

  • Obtain multiple quotes. Don't settle on the first person you get an estimate from for your tree trimming needs. Get multiple quotes to see what choices you have available.
  • Ask what will be involved. Will one person be doing the job, or will two? How many hours will be involved? This is how you will gauge if someone is trying to rip you off, or if they are being honest with you.
  • Get the estimate broken down for each tree. One company may charge you more for one tree, while the other may not. There is no harm in hiring multiple companies to do individual trees if it will save you money.
  • Be home for the day of the trimming. This will allow you to watch their progress, ask them to do something else if you want your tree done a certain way, etc. Plus if you see they use less people or take less time, you may be able to haggle over the price.
  • Try to use the same company each year. If you are a reoccurring customer you may find yourself getting a break on the price. Or, if they try to charge you more, you can state how much they charged you the previous year. Tree trimmers want repeat business, so they will work with you on the price.

Why You Should Get Your Trees Trimmed

There are several reasons why you want to keep your trees properly trimmed:

  • It makes your home look nice. Your neighbors will appreciate it, and you will enjoy the look of your yards when you have nicely trimmed trees.
  • It makes your business look attractive. If your trees are overgrown around your business, then customers may assume that if you don't take care of your trees, you won't take care of them. Create an inviting business by having nicely trimmed trees.
  • Creates less mess in the long run. I have a Mulberry tree that drops hundreds of berries. They are sticky and hard to clean up. My avocado tree drops thousands of thorns. They are not only painful when stepped on, they are also hard to clean up. With trimmed trees, the mess you have to deal with is a lot less.

Experiences on Hiring a Tree Trimmer

I'll provide three experiences I had when hiring a tree trimmer. Each are totally different, and both show the good and bad sides of the experience.

  • When I first purchased my house, I found out my next door neighbor was a tree trimmer. The problem was that he was unlicensed. I hired him anyway since I was trying to save money. Each year for the next few years he trimmed my trees. He always did a good job, but he took at least a week to do just the two trees I had. The most he would charge me for both trees was $400.
  • After my neighbor moved away, I had to hire a licensed tree trimmer. The licensed tree trimmer I hired charged me $500 just for one tree. That was higher than the unlicensed tree trimmer when he would do both trees! However, this company was able to finish the job in a day and provided a nice look for my trees, even nicer than the unlicensed tree trimmer.
  • I was overcharged once. I kept searching for a tree trimmer who would charge less than $500, but would do a great job. I had a place recommended to me, and despite being charged close to $800 for one tree, I gave them a try. While the tree looked very nice, it wasn't trimmed how I wanted, so I felt overcharged. I went back to the place that charged me $500, and ended up being much happier with them.
A very bushy Avocado tree before being trimmed.  I had not had this tree trimmed in about 2-3 years.

A very bushy Avocado tree before being trimmed. I had not had this tree trimmed in about 2-3 years.

A nicely trimmed Avocado tree.  You can actually see through the tree now.

A nicely trimmed Avocado tree. You can actually see through the tree now.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 David Livermore


Jenna Estefan from Seattle, WA on April 30, 2013:

Great pictures! I definitely learned some things after reading this hub!

Jessica Peri from United States on April 20, 2013:

I had no idea how complicated this could be. I am not a homeowner yet, but it's great to learn about yard care like this. Voted up and useful.

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