Dear Angie: How much does it cost to have a tree removed? — Gail D., Hyattsville, Md.
Answer: Getting to the root of your question might be a challenge because prices vary greatly.
But here are the main factors pros consider when pricing, according to our researchers' interviews with highly rated tree-removal experts:
Size: It's a safe bet that the taller the tree, the bigger the bill. Oak trees, for example, can grow to more than 60 feet tall and are difficult to cut, so removal costs could range from $200 to $1,000.
Pine trees are easier to cut but can grow much taller, so removal can cost $200 to $1,500.
A tree with a large mass of foliage will cost more to remove than one with a smaller crown.
Condition: A dead or relatively hollow tree might cost more to remove because workers must be extra careful to avoid dangers associated with brittleness and falling branches.
Accessibility: Another important factor is how easy, or difficult, it is for workers to reach the tree and do their job. The more inaccessible a tree is to workers and equipment, the higher the cost of the job.
One aspect of accessibility that can increase the price is tree location. It can cost more to remove a tree that is close to a house, garage, shed, fence, electrical lines or other structure or object.
If a tree can be reached easily by a bucket truck in your driveway, for example, the cost of removal probably will be cheaper than for a tree near a fence in the farthest corner of the backyard.
Another accessibility factor is how much space workers have in which to move. If they must use ropes and rigging devices to cut a tree to the ground one chunk at a time, that probably will cost more than if they can knock the tree to the ground and cut it apart there.
Experts told our team that, with all factors considered, tree removal can cost as much as $2,400.
Be aware that when the tree is gone, the stump remains. Grinding it down or digging it out can cost an additional $65 to $350, depending on the stump's depth and solidity.
Before you hire: Most reputable companies won't offer a price quote without seeing the tree, and most will provide a free estimate.
Before hiring, follow these tips:
■ Ask friends and family for recommendations or check a trusted online review site.
■ Ask questions to assure yourself that the company is properly equipped to do the job.
■ Ask for proof of insurance and confirm through the agent that the policy adequately covers property damage and injuries that could occur on your property.
■ Find out whether the company removes the debris or if you're responsible for that. Do you want it for firewood and/or mulch?
■ Before any work is done, agree to the terms and details of the project, outlined in a written contract.