Conifer removal costs - how much to remove a conifer tree?

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Conifer removal costs - how much to remove a conifer tree?

Conifer removal is not technical although very tall conifers may require specialist intervention. The trees are reduced if they are very high, felled and then the stump either physically ground out or dug out – small trees are simply dropped to the ground and then cut up on the ground. The daily labour rate for one man is around £200 so the average cost for conifer removal can range from under £500 to over £1.000 and rising.

Conifers have been popular for years and there are gardens all over the UK which contain them in varying heights and shapes. However, this popular, low maintenance evergreen can cause problems if it is planted without any thought given to its final size. There are many people with gardens where the conifers are too large for their setting and the trees are unwieldy and difficult to manage. Conifers will block out light and their roots may encroach and damage hard surfaces like driveways and patios. They can also cause problems between neighbours due to their size.

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What are the individual factors which can affect the cost?

There are a number of factors which affect the cost of conifer removal and these include:-

  • The number of conifers to be removed
  • The height of the conifers so the amount of climbing involved
  • Access to the trees to do the work
  • Whether they are located next to a road
  • The disposal of the wood and greenery
  • Where you live, the regions around the UK are always cheaper than London and the South East

image from: https://www.kent-treecare.co.uk/conifer-removal/

Why people remove conifers

The trigger point for most people to remove conifers is their size. Conifers are pretty low maintenance so it is not usually the care of the trees which prompts that phone call to a tree surgeon or garden company.

Conifers take up space - they can become particularly wide – and even one tree can block out light. A row of conifers which have always been a popular choice for a hedge will block out light into gardens and houses. And their roots can spread and cause damage, undermining driveways and patios and even the house itself.

How to find someone to remove conifers

If the job is quite small then a sole gardener or small gardening company will be able to handle it for you. If you have a row of conifers which have achieved a real height then you need to look for a tree surgeon or specialist tree company who can use ropes to work at the height required and have the machinery and equipment to deal with tall trees.

Many people ask around in their family or circle of friends for a recommendation. Failing that, you can use one of the many online platforms to search for you – all you need is a brief description of the job and your postcode and they contact companies on their database on your behalf. Social media is also a good source of any recommendations, usually, a local community group or forum is best.

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What to look for in a quotation

Make sure the estimate includes complete site clearance and discuss with each contractor how they propose to remove the trees, root and branch. Sizeable conifers will leave you with a row of stumps which either need to be ground out or dug out – the latter option will make a big mess. Always try to get three estimates as prices can vary hugely. Each contractor should inspect the site before they quote, this allows them to consider the size of the trees, access to the site and whether or not their work could disrupt any underground cabling or pipework – this refers specifically to dealing with the conifers’ roots and trunk.

What is the process to remove the trees?

After a site inspection, the trees are felled just above the stump, taller conifers may be reduced in height and width first and will require ropes to drop them to the ground safely. Most contractors will reduce the trees down in size on-site as much as they can before carting away the debris so do expect some mess. Stumps are commonly ground out with a stump grinder and if you want to re-plant the area with something else at a later date then it is important to remove all of the trees in their entirety.

Saving money on conifer removal

Small conifers can be tackled by the householder with just a small amount of equipment and a little planning:-

  • Clear the site around the tree first and make sure that there are no cable, pipe or drain runs which could be disturbed
  • Reduce the conifer in size using an electric hedge cutter and this will expose the trunk
  • Drop the conifer to the ground, a chain saw will make light work of this
  • Hire a woodchipper for a day or two and remove and chip individual branches
  • Cut the trunk up into sections which can be used for firewood using the chain saw

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Frequently Asked Questions

I have a row of conifers which form a hedge with my neighbour, how can I found out who the legal owner is?

The title deeds (which may be with your mortgage company) will have a physical map of the property and show who is the legal owner of the hedge. The Solicitor who handled the conveyancing may also be able to tell you. Only the hedge owner can remove the conifers although you are allowed to cut and trim the conifer back on your side of the boundary. On occasion, a hedge shares the boundary and is owned jointly by the householders on both sides, any decision to remove the conifers will, therefore, need to be reached by mutual agreement. Read more about cost of hedge trimming.

Is there any form of recycling which the trees can be used for?

If there is woodchipping to be done on-site then this will create a decent mound of fresh woodchip which you can use for garden mulch. If there is a lot of it then it is easy to bag and store provided it hasn’t rained. Large branches can be cut up and retained as firewood but they will need to be thoroughly seasoned - stored and dried out - before they will burn properly.

Do I need planning permission or any consents to remove conifers?

Not usually but you can check with your local council to make sure that there are no Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) in place. Different rules and regulations apply to properties which are listed and/or in a conservation area.

Why do conifers cause disputes between neighbours?

What is one person’s eyesore is another person’s privacy. Conifers do offer seclusion and can form a total screen. The disputes between neighbours usually centre around one neighbour wanting to remove their conifers and the other neighbour wanting them to remain in place as it will affect his privacy. It is always best to try not to fall out with your neighbours as these disputes can easily escalate and any conflict does have to be revealed if the property is sold further down the line. If a potential buyer finds out from the Property Information form that you have spent years locked in a bitter feud over a row of conifers, then they are not going to be so keen to buy your house.

How long should I wait before replanting the area?

There is no specific length of time and it depends on what you have planned for this area of soil. It is good practice to dig it over and dig in some organic compost or horse manure to let the area recover. If you are going to wait a while before you plant it them cover the soil with bark chippings or even better, the chippings from the conifers, this will help prevent weed growth.

I have a huge row of conifers, how can I spread the cost of removing them?

Large dense rows of conifers which are tightly packed can be removed in stages; this also helps spread the gardening cost. Arrange to take out every other tree, this will leave the screen largely in place but just thinning them out will bring in light and many people opt to do this rather than remove the whole row.

What can I replace the conifers with on my boundary?

If it is your boundary you can replace the conifers with whatever you want including another green hedge. It is possible to buy instant, ready grown hedges which come in a range of varieties both evergreen and deciduous which are transplanted into the area to form an immediate green boundary. Fencing is another option. If the conifers were tall then the area will look very strange for a while after they have been removed. If you want to opt for fencing but still want to keep a more natural, green look incorporate a trellis or climbing plants into the design which will soften the contrast.

For more information on the general disposal of garden waste see this government article, and see this article from The Royal Horticultural Society on the removal of tree stumps.

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