How we calculate prices for our tree services | Yarra Eco Pty Ltd

Written by Joshua Mcdowell

Arborist Manager

Yarra Eco Pty Ltd

Arborist Manager at Yarra Eco Pty Ltd

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Pricing.

We often get asked, ‘how much does tree work cost?’. Now, although that seems like a fairly simple question, the answer you’ll usually hear back is ‘it depends on the job’. Which is true… It does depend on the job. Our aim with this blog post is to do an in-depth breakdown of everything that affects job pricing to hopefully give you an idea of what to expect when you look for quotes on your tree work. 

 

Site variables.

Each site can present its own unique set of challenges. Accessing the work area is usually the main concern when it comes to on-site variables. If we can pull our vehicles straight up to your front garden where the job is located, with no fence in the way, and we’re able to lower branches directly into the space that the chipper is parked in, this is pretty much the ideal situation in terms of access. If on the other hand, the trees are located 100m into the backyard then we may have to explore options such as mini-loader utilisation to transport the branches and wood material to the chipping area. This could mean added machinery expenses and probably a longer overall job duration. 

 

If you’re needing a stump to be ground out, access is key in this scenario too. Most stump grinders will fit through a standard 900mm gate, but if your access is narrow this can call for a smaller specialised unit which can be more expensive and also take longer. If the tree stump is large, a small machine could take a while. Usually, a stump grinder can access small garden beds with sleepers around them, by way of ramps and other equipment. If the trees were located on top of an inaccessible retaining wall, or another difficult access situation, we can source a specialised piece of equipment called an Alpine Magnum. These are few and far between, so can end up costing more.

using a stump grinder to remove tree stump

Site variables also come in the form of targets. ‘Targets’ are anything in the work zone that we need to avoid when removing or pruning a tree. A greenhouse or garage would be examples of targets that we have no option but to workaround. Pot plants, garden furniture and washing lines are examples of targets that can be moved to avoid damage. If you are willing to clear all of the movable targets, pre our arrival, you could save yourself some cost in labour. When we have things to avoid, this often means that branches and logs will need to be ‘rigged’, which is the process of using ropes, pulleys and friction devices to control the descent. This takes more time and skill than it would do if there was nothing but clear grass in the drop zone.

Tree materials

We are lucky in that the byproducts of our industry are sometimes highly sought after. Oftentimes, we can get rid of mulch for free and give away or sell firewood. This presents a unique opportunity for our customers to save themselves some money, by opting to keep the logs and/or mulch. Some of our customers in the past have chosen to advertise the logs from their tree removal on platforms such as Facebook marketplace before the tree being removed. This way, they managed to organise the collection of the logs from their property by somebody looking to collect firewood, for free. Some even managed to get paid for the logs… You read that correctly, they got paid for having the tree removed. If you’re willing to keep hold of the products generated by your job, you’ll get a discount from us, and sometimes it’ll be a hefty one. 

Certain types of trees are more expensive than others to have removed and taken away, palm trees being a prime example. Neither the fronds nor logs from palm trees can be mulched, as their acid corrodes the internal components of the woodchipper. Palms also create unusable mulch. The way that we dispose of palm trees is to either load them into a truck and take them to a transfer station, or you can arrange for a skip bin to be on-site so that we can place the waste into it. Lagunaria patersonii (Norfolk island hibiscus) is another example of a more expensive tree to work with. The truth is, it’s no more difficult to climb, cut, drag or mulch, but it itches like hell! We have a tough time sweet-talking the guys into being enthusiastic about working with these trees as their effects are often felt way into the evening and sometimes the next day. They give off tiny hairs that become lodged in every body part like small needles. Uniforms have to be washed multiple times after working with these trees and anybody who tells you that they don’t slightly inflate the price due to this species is telling you a bent version of the truth.

If a tree is heavily covered in vines or creepers, it can make working with it more difficult. Not game changingly difficult, but the process will likely take longer.

Compromised trees.

When assessing the worksite during a quote, we’ll perform a VTA (visual tree assessment). We’re checking the safety of lots of different aspects of the job, as the arboricultural industry is inherently risky. A compromised tree may present challenges and to work safely around these challenges, precautions should be taken. For example, if we notice fissures in the ground around the tree it could be an indicator of ‘root heave’. We may have to access a secondary nearby canopy in order to set a safe high point for the ropes, and this could make the job more difficult. If there are no large trees nearby, an EWP (elevated work platform) may be a more appropriate course of action. This presents increased machinery costs.

If a tree is large enough and in a precarious position, it will probably need to be dismantled and rigged. An issue arises, however, if we feel that the tree is too unstable to rig off of itself as it may not be able to withstand the ‘shock load’. A similar solution can be offered to this scenario, as was offered to the scenario above.

tree fallen over emergency

The scale of the job.

The elephant in the room which is yet to be addressed is, of course, the scale of the job. For example, if you have a couple of small trees that require a ‘crown raise’, which is the process of removing the lower branches, this is often easily taken care of by one arborist and an extendable pole pruner, sometimes costing as little as $150. You’d enjoy the reduced expense of travel time, as we’d be fitting it into our already planned schedule. When booking out multiple days with a large crew required and highly skilled climbing work on the schedule, you can expect to be reaching the low to mid thousands.

Examples.

The reason you’ll struggle to get anybody to give you a ‘ballpark figure’ for your work, is because once it’s said, it can’t be unsaid. With that in mind, we feel that it will be helpful to give some examples of jobs that we’ve undertaken recently and the price that we charged.

Canterbury – Multiple tasks.

We recently carried out a job for our client in Canterbury. We were tasked with pruning a branch from a Liquidambar that was overextended and overhanging a council pathway. We weight reduced the branch with an extendable pole pruner. Another part of the job was to climb and remove 7 small Frangipanis that was situated in a narrow corridor behind the tennis court. We climbed them, felled the tops of the trees over the tennis court fencing where it was easier to access and drag the branches to the chipper. The logwood had to be carried out manually. The third part of the job involved reducing 6 Magnolias in height by around 1.5m, they could all be accessed via a large ladder and pruned with secateurs and a hand saw. We then re-shaped a Maple which had been hedge trimmed into a ball for ornamental purposes and removed the trunk of a nectarine tree which had recently died. We used our friends at Proleaf to come in with their narrow access stump grinding equipment, and grind all 7 Frangipani stumps and the nectarine stump. Due to the fact the access included bringing the stump grinder across an established garden bed, which would have destroyed the existing shrubs and plants, Proleaf dug them up and replanted them once the job was complete. The final part of the day involved climbing a mature Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly) and thinning the canopy to increase the amount of sunlight that the vegetable garden was receiving. For this, we were able to drive around and park in the laneway which helped greatly reduce the amount of dragging that was needed. All in all, the job required 4 workers; 1 wood chipper and 1 stump grinder. There were 8 tree removals; 8 small trees to be pruned from the ground; 1 mature tree to be climbed and reduced; 8 stumps to be ground out with limited access; all materials to be removed from the site and the place to be left as spotlessly tidy as when we found it.

Total cost: $1701.00 INC GST

Ringwood East – Tree pruning and reductions.

Our customer in Ringwood East needed three trees on his property taken care of. He has a Betula pendula (Silver birch) in the corner of the garden that had one limb overhanging the council footpath. We were instructed to remove the lowest limb which involved two cuts with a chainsaw and throwing it over the fence where the grounds person could take it to the chipper. The access to the job was good, and we were able to park very close to where the trees were located. The second part of the job involved climbing a mature Callistemon viminalis (Bottlebrush) and weight-reducing all of the branches. These trees tend to break and tear when they get too heavy. The third and final part of the job (which was slightly underestimated), was to climb and reduce a large Acer negundo (Boxelder maple) back to its original pollarding points. If you don’t know what pollarding is, see our pollarding blog post. All of this took the best part of 4 – 5 hours for two workers. It involved two mulch dumps of our small chipping unit and the use of the wood chipper. 

Total cost: $825 INC GST

Our customer was so pleased with the work that he paid us $900 as he felt that the job had been underquoted.

arborist pruning trees in Mitcham

Wonga Park – Removal of a dangerous stem and weight reduction over a house.

In total there were two trees to take care of for our customer in Wonga Park. His mature Grevillia robusta had recently shed a limb (fairly typical of that species) and had left a precarious-looking dent in a previously solid stem. This stem overhung his garage where he houses his vintage cars. It was for this reason that the job required some fairly straight forward rigging, to lower the branches safely. The second part of the job included climbing a very large Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red Box). The Euc had several limbs that were extending out and touching our customer’s balcony and causing him concern. Although this was a much more difficult and skilful task than the Grevillia, this didn’t require rigging as there was sufficient room to drop the branches. We were able to leave the decent-sized logwood for firewood, and we mulched and removed all of the other branches from the site. Two workers were required; one wood chipper; one mulch dump and some intricate pruning. The job took around 3.5 hours.

Total cost: $740 INC GST

This was a return visit to our client who we have previously done a slightly bigger and slightly more costly job for in the past.

Summary 

The time required; materials and machinery needed; the number of staff members preferred; type of access and targets at the job site; vegetation materials; ability to leave logs and branches on-site; skill level required for the job; dangerous or compromised trees and emergency callout fees are some of, but not all of the different factors impacting the job price. Please get in touch for a free estimate.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you would like to discuss any of the information mentioned, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Yarra Eco Pty Ltd.

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