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Equipment for Tree Trimming: 14 Tools You Need for Work

December 21, 2023 9 min. read
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Your customers’ trees will come in all shapes and trimming requirements. Equipping yourself with a full set of high-quality tree trimming equipment will get you up those trees safely, cutting with efficiency, and impressing customers.

Use this guide to purchase equipment for tree trimming jobs and other tools you’ll need to start your tree service business. We’ll also share tips on choosing the right products, along with average prices for each tool.

1. Chainsaw

Using a motorized chain blade, chainsaws cut through thick, dense branches and tree trunks quickly and cleanly. You’ll need at least one chainsaw so you can fell entire trees, cut through large limbs, and section trunks.

Consider these three different chainsaw types:

  • Gas chainsaws are powered by a combustion engine, and are typically more powerful than electric or battery-powered models. They handle heavier tasks like felling large trees and cutting thick branches.
  • Electric chainsaws need to be plugged into a power outlet, but they’re generally lighter, quieter, and easier to start and maintain than gas models.
  • Battery-powered chainsaws are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They’re portable like gas chainsaws, but also low-maintenance and quiet like electric models.

Cost: $250–800

2. Hand saw

Sometimes, nothing beats the accuracy of a manual hand saw. You can saw as precisely as you need to with a hand saw—this tool should be your go-to for cutting smaller branches and for any work in tight spaces.

Cost: $15–40

3. Pole saw

A pole saw is a long, often extendable rod with a saw at the end. Without having to climb, you can use pole saws to prune and trim smaller branches and maintain tree canopies.

Pole saws come in gas, electric, and manual models.

  • Manual pole saws are the most affordable and low-maintenance option, but they’re harder on your arms for long stretches of time.
  • Gas-powered pole saws are great for cutting thick branches and other demanding tasks. You can use these saws without a power outlet, but their engines need refueling.
  • Electric pole saws are much quieter and neighborhood-friendly than gas models. They’re also easier to handle, especially when reaching overhead, which makes your job less tiring.

Cost: $60–250

4. Axe

Purchase an axe or two to cut branches and smaller tree trunks. Axes are also great for post-cut clean-up tasks, like splitting logs for removal or processing.

Cost: $25–50

5. Hatchet

A hatchet is essentially a smaller, one-handed version of an axe, and is ideal for finer chopping tasks. Use hatchets to chop and split small pieces of wood, or to clear the brush and undergrowth around a tree.

Cost: $20–55

6. Loppers

Loppers are specialized branch cutters with long handles. These handles give you leverage to cut through branches that are too thick for pruners but too thin for saws.

Using loppers to shape trees and control their growth will give your customers clean-looking, healthy trees.

Cost: $50–150

READ MORE: 405+ tree company names to help grow your business

7. Pruners

Professional tree trimmers use pruners, or pruning shears, to cut and shape smaller branches and twigs. Pruners also help you remove dead or diseased wood and manage overgrowth.

Pruners come in handy for gardening tasks, too, so keep them around if you decide to offer landscaping services.

Here are the types of pruning tools you should purchase:

  • Pruning saws have sharp, curved blades and are designed to cut live wood. Use them to remove medium-sized branches that are too thick for hand saws but not dense enough to need a chainsaw.
  • Bypass pruners are handheld pruning shears that also have curved blades, but they act more like scissors and make closer cuts. Bypass pruners are great for more precise pruning tasks, like shaping young trees and snipping off unwanted growth.
  • Anvil pruners are another handheld pruner, but with a single, straight blade closing against a flat surface. Only use anvil pruners to cut dry or dead branches—unlike bypass pruners, they can crush and destroy live plant tissue.
  • Extendable (or telescopic) pruners are like a pruning saw and a bypass pruner rolled into one. These pruners have scissor-like blades at the end of a long pole, letting you trim high branches from the ground (when they’re too thick for pole saws).

Cost: $20–70

8. Hedge trimmers

Hedge trimmers are exactly what they sound like: an essential tool for creating clean lines on hedges and maintaining the hedge shape your customer wants.

Cost: $35–85 (or $250+ for gas-powered trimmers)

9. Wedges

Use a wedge to control the direction a tree falls when you’re cutting it down. Professional tree trimmers insert these wedges into cuts made in the trunk, using them to guide the tree’s descent to prevent damage to its surroundings.

Cost: $12–20

READ MORE: 12 best arborist website examples to get you customers

10. Stump grinder

The stump grinder is a large piece of equipment that removes tree stumps after the tree has been cut down.

About the size of a lawn mower—and sometimes as big as a truck—stump grinders have fast-rotating disks with teeth that grind through stumps and roots.

Use a stump grinder to clean up a customer’s landscape after a complete tree removal.

Cost: $1,200–5,000+

11. Wood chipper 

Wood chippers break down branches, limbs, and trunks into small chips that you can throw away or use for mulch. after you’ve felled a tree.

You can typically mount these machines onto a truck or van. While electric chippers are easier to use and don’t require regular engine maintenance, gas-powered chippers can break down branches much faster.

Cost: $450–800

12. Climbing and rigging equipment

Getting the right climbing and rigging equipment is a matter of safety and time savings.

Climbing equipment lets you get up trees safely and cut at heights, while rigging equipment is what helps you dismantle and lower parts of a tree to the ground.

Grab these essential pieces of gear for a complete climbing and rigging kit:

Climbing gear

  • Climbing saddle or harness: Saddles and harnesses support and attach your body to your climbing system safely. Saddles usually include padding to keep you comfortable during extended use.
  • Climbing spurs or spikes: Spurs are holsters that wrap around your legs to help you grip yourself onto trees using built-in hooks. 
  • Carabiners: These metal loops secure your climbing rope to your saddle. Do not use cheap carabiners from the hardware store—purchase special climbing carabiners and replace them regularly.
  • Lifeline: Your lifeline is the rope that keeps you secure as you climb a tree. After throwing your lifeline over the crotch of the tree, you’ll need to tie the rope into a Blake’s hitch, or add a Prusik knot on top of it, to ascend and descend.
  • Flipline or tree climbing lanyard: A flipline is a short piece of braided rope that you attach to your harness and wrap around the tree to flip yourself upwards. Fliplines temporarily hold you in position and help you climb short distances.
  • Mechanical rope grabs and ascenders: Instead of tying hitches on your lifeline, you can use mechanical rope grabs to move up and down your lifeline rope. Mechanical rope grabs are bulkier and cost more, but let you move faster than hitches do.

Cost: $700–1,300

Rigging equipment

  • Rigging rope (or utility line): This rope wraps around branches to help you cut them precisely where you need to and lower them to the ground safely.
  • Rigging blocks: These metal blocks attach your rigging rope to a tree so you can create a pulley system to lower branches after cutting them.
  • Throw line and throw bags: A throw line is thin rope that creates a route for rigging or climbing over a specific branch. You’ll attach the throw line to a weighted throw bag and throw it over the tree. Then, tie your climbing lifeline rope to this throw line so you can ascend the tree along the throw line.

Cost: $390–1,150

For a full rundown on choosing and using tree climbing equipment, listen to advice from professional tree trimmer Keith Kalfas:

13. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Helmet: To protect your head in the event of falls and falling tree debris, look for a specialized arborist helmet with a built-in face shield.
  • Footwear: Mountain hiking boots work great for tree climbing—they’re sturdy, protective, and have good grip.
  • Safety glasses: While you’re sawing, chipping, or grinding, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying chips and sawdust.
  • Work gloves: Pick heavy-duty work gloves to protect your hands from cuts and splinters while using saws and handling branches.
  • Chainsaw chaps: These are special pants with extremely durable, cut-resistant fabric that protects your legs from accidental chainsaw cuts.

Cost: $370–600

14. Tree trimming business software

You’ll need more than cutting and rigging equipment for your tree trimming business to be a success. Keep clients, job details, and your schedule organized with mobile tree service business software like Jobber—all from the truck, the field, or at home.

With quoting, scheduling, invoicing, and payments in one place, Jobber reduces admin work at every stage of your tree trimming jobs to help you save 7 hours a week.

Here’s how Jobber helps you improve your daily operations and keep your tree trimming business organized:

How to choose the right tree trimming equipment

There are so many products, brands, and types of equipment to choose from—it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Follow these tips before purchasing tree trimming equipment:

  • Look for reviews and recommendations. Always check equipment reviews, or ask other professional tree trimmers, to make sure you can trust the product.
  • Choose ergonomic equipment. Comfortable tools reduce fatigue and help you work with more efficiency. Look for pruners and hatchets with ergonomic handles.
  • Choose quality over price. Tree trimming can be dangerous work, so safer, more durable equipment—especially climbing gear—is always worth the investment. Look for arborist tools from specialized vendors rather than cheap hardware store products.
  • Make a long-term plan for equipment purchases. You might budget $2,000 or $3,000 for initial equipment purchases now, then buy new tools or upgrade when you reach a certain annual revenue or number of customers.

No matter what you buy, take good care of your equipment—and trust in your skills and experience to get the job done well.

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