Stumped? What to Expect When You Need a Tree Removed in D.C.

Jason Hargraves
Written by Jason Hargraves
Updated June 15, 2020
Dead tree waiting for removal in D.C.
Photo: Jason Hargraves

Tree removal in Washington, D.C., can be an expensive service, with tree-cutting costs varying based on size and location

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You held out hope for that sickly tree all through spring and summer.

But now it’s August, and there’s no denying the tree is dead and needs to be removed. But who do you call and how much will it cost you?

The first part is relatively easy. It just takes a call to a highly-rated Washington-area tree service company.

It’s the cost part that's tricky.

Tree Removal Estimates

Most tree removal companies will ask many questions about the tree and the surrounding conditions before attempting to quote a price. Many will want to see the space and tree before estimating the cost to cut down the tree.

The price range for tree removal cost can be quite significant, especially in D.C., where buildings and landscaping tend to be close together. Primarily, the price depends on the tree's size and how easy it is to access, as well as whether heavy machinery or certified tree specialists are required for the removal.

Generally speaking, the average tree removal cost in D.C. falls between $150 and $500. For larger trees, those up to 75 feet can run about $1,000, and trees taller than that may cost at least $1,500. The cost for tree removal can easily double or more when you add in limb-chopping, stump removal (not usually included in the removal cost), travel expense, and equipment rental.

Many of the District's urban and suburban areas present a challenge, according to SavATree in Rockville, Maryland, because the trees are often surrounded by other plantings or valuable structures. SavATree's standard tree removal includes taking down the tree, chipping all brush, cutting wood into logs and cutting the stumps to be as flush as possible with the ground.

Adirondack Tree Experts, in Beltsville, Maryland, specializes in large hazardous trees. The highly rated company owns its own crane, which is convenient and enables them to do removals that would be a challenge for others or may be more expensive if the tree service had to rent the equipment.

In Gaithersburg, Maryland, The Davey Tree Expert Co. branch suggests working with a professional arborist, which not all tree companies employ, because removals may be complex and mistakes can be costly. They also stress the importance of having the company explain the removal process.

City Responsibility

In D.C., the tree's size isn’t the only major issue. Location is just as important, and if you're lucky, it could end up being the best cost-saver of all.

Owners of brownstones, row houses and other homes close to the public street often consider the trees lining their lawns to be their own, but those shade-providers may be on city property, which would make them D.C.'s responsibility.

If you're not sure of ownership, you can call 311 to request a street tree service. A certified arborist will inspect the tree within 30 days and decide the best course of action from there.

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