DIY Savings: Tree Removal

The cost of tree removal seems to be a popular question so I’ll do that next. My experience is that the cost can vary a lot depending on your area and on the way the tree needs to be cut down. If the tree can be cut down in one piece it will cost a lot less than if it needs to be taken down in pieces to avoid hitting anything. We have had to cut down three large trees so far (I’m not going to include the smaller dead trees we cut down since they were easily a DIY project and not something we’d consider hiring out).


First there was a tall hickory that was only 10 feet from the house and the shed. It was actually touching the power line that runs from the house over to the shed! I had wanted to cut it down ever since we moved in but it was a very nice tree and hickories are known to be very strong so we let it go. Then when we were determining the best location to put our geothermal loops we realized that the best location ran right where the hickory was. So we decided to cut it down. We made sure and do it before we built the fence in the backyard because the tree was so tall it spanned the whole side yard and would have hit the fence. To help make sure the tree fell where we wanted it to Papa Flannel brought over his bobcat.

You can see the future fence area that is exposed dirt in this picture:

When the geothermal loops were put in we had the backhoe driver remove the stump so there was no need for it to be ground out.


Last fall we cut down the other two trees. The big black walnut in the backyard was leaning toward the house and sandwiched between the new fence and an oak we wanted to save. We had to cut it down in lots of little pieces which meant getting our hands on a bucket lift. Fortunately, we had a family friend who is a farmer and let us rent one for only $100.

The other tree was a very rotten cherry tree that was leaning over our new fence. We couldn’t get the bucket lift near the tree like we had planned because of the uneven ground. So we tried using a pulley system and the bobcat to help direct which way it fell. That didn’t end well.

Luckily, it didn’t hit any of the posts and we were able to repair the fence with just some treated 2×4’s and new pickets. You can read more about how we cut down those two trees here.


Difficulty Level
Moderate – It doesn’t take many tools to do but it’s important to be careful. Everyone who was in the bucket lift was wearing safety harnesses for example. Both of our dads have a lot of experience cutting down trees so that was a big help too.


The quote we got for hiring someone to cut down the trees, dispose of the debris, and grind out the stumps:
Hickory = $800
Cherry = $800
Black Walnut = $1,500 (it costs more because it couldn’t be cut down in one piece)
$3,100 Total

Our costs:
Borrow a cherry picker from a friend = $100
Material to repair the fence = $125
$225 Total

DIY Savings = $2,875

We still have the stumps for the cherry and black walnut trees though. The cherry tree was in the woods so it’s no big deal and the black walnut stump is part of a flower bed I’d like to make so I was thinking of putting a big pot with annuals on top of it.


1 Response to “DIY Savings: Tree Removal”

  1. 1 mrgmahon April 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for the information. I’m going to try it to cut down some trees in the backyard of our new house. I found a cool video on that explains how to chop a tree down without the Bobcat. ( There is one tree that worries me a bit and it is close to the house. For that one I would like to rent a cherry-picker but did not see any at HomeDepot or Lowe’s. Any ideas?

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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings

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