Tree trimming service - difference?

I need some tree service done to a property. Two black olive trees need pruning/trimming/cleaning, one mango tree and oak tree was severly damaged by hurricane Wilma to the point they are beyond recovery need to be cut down and removed. A bottle brush that toppled need to be removed also.
I looked up three companies in the yellow pages and asked them to provide a free estimate.
Company 1: Clean/prune black olive tree: $450 per tree Cut down damaged oak: $350 Cut down mango: $350 Cut down bottle brush: $200 Haul & disposal: $800 Total: $2600
Company 2: Mango cut and haul: $850 Oak cut and haul: $150 Black olives trim: $750 each Bottle brush cut and haul: $150 Total: $2650
Company 3: Quoted me a lump sum of $1000 to do everything include hauling away.
Company 1 and 2 have pretty close bottom line. But look at the trim fee for the black olives, $450 vs $850 each, why such drastic difference?
and company 3? So much cheaper?
How do I make comparisons? I have no knowledge of any of these companies? Don't know if they are reputable or not.
Any advise on questions to ask them?
MC - location in Miami, FL zone 10
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miamicuse wrote:

First, I would ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Second, I would ask them why such a big difference in prices. Third, are they bonded/insured? Fourth, how many people would be there to handle the job and what kind of equipment?
I don't have a whole lot of experience with this. Had to have one tree removed (a week before it was to be sold!!!), have seen my father have trees trimmed and my nephew does some of it himself. The company that removed our tree did it very cheaply, brought in five or six people and a small bobcat kinda machine to carry the big chunks and the fallen tree was removed and they were gone in under an hour. My father had three trees trimmed by two guys and it took them all day between the actual trimming and the disposal/removal. My nephew does occasional removal services and does it fairly cheaply because he then cuts up the wood and either burns it himself or sells it. :P
Tracey
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Related to the question, should I grind the stump down a few inches? They said it will be an additional $150 per stump if I want to grind it.
MC
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On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 23:11:59 -0400, "miamicuse"

looks ugly to you, or if you might trip over it (or the hole it leaves as it rots), grind it. If it is inconspicuous and out of the way, don't bother.
keith
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miamicuse wrote:

reported problems with them. Also ask if they have references.
I live in SW Louisiana, recently hit by Hurricane Rita and the tree surgeons made a fortune but as far as I know most were honest. I've used the same company for fifteen years now (we have one tree left out of twelve we started with). Ask if they are bonded, licensed, have worker's compensation insurance also. Very important if someone gets hurt on your property while they're working there.
George
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On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 21:37:43 -0400, "miamicuse"

Documentation that the companies and workers are bonded and insured.
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Questions to ask an arborist: http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/quiz.html
To ask an so-called expert: http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/quiz-ma100.html
Would you go to a doctor who flunked anatomy?
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr. Beware of so-called TREE EXPERTS who do not understand TREE BIOLOGY! www.treedictionary.com
http://mercury.ccil.org/~treeman / Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss. Some people will buy products they do not understand and not buy books that will give them understanding.

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On Thu, 22 Jun 2006 21:37:43 -0400, "miamicuse"

branches to be removed. A tree that has large, unsafe dead wood might be pruned to a 2" standard (remove all dead branches at least 2" diameter) fairly cheaply. A tree that is being pruned to look absolutely perfect might be quoted at 1/2" diam. or even 1/4" diam.
A good arborist rarely removes interior growth, but might spend time at the ends of branches reducing weight. It is much faster and easier to strip out the interior, but is quite bad for the tree.
Some companies employ experienced climbers, possibly with ISA certification (Certified Arborist or Certified Tree Worker). Others hire day laborers or whomever they can get to show up for minimum wage. Guess which costs more? Guess which tends to produce better results?
So, ask: --What is the smallest branch you will prune?
--What material will be removed, and why?
--Who will do the work, and what are their qualifications?
--Are you insured? Can I see a certificate to prove it? (Make sure the insurance states that the company is insured for tree work--your yard man's liability insurance probably does not cover workers who leave the ground).
--Can I have a list of references? (Call to ask how they liked the work; go look at the trees if possible, to confirm that they have not been stripped out, topped, or otherwise overpruned.)
But first, visit www.treesaregood.com to educate yourself about what constitues good tree work. Then you will be in a better position to ask questions and evaluate the answers.
Good luck, Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
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wrote:

Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I have learned a lot and will definitely follow your advise.
MC
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