Trees are a great addition to any property. They provide shade, shelter and can even be used as a windbreak. However, raking your yard for fallen leaves can be hard work, and the more trees you have the more maintenance your yard will require. Whatever your reasons are for cutting down a tree, it’s important to know the risks associated with various tree-related activities.
Hiring a Professional Tree Surgeon
When removing a large dead or dying oak tree from your yard, you should hire a licensed arborist to ensure a safe fall. Tree surgeons are experts in the care and cultivation of trees and will take all precautions necessary when cutting them down. Your safety, people close by, and property damage will always be at the forefront during this process. Despite the cost of cutting down a tree being high initially, hiring a professional is cost-effective in the long-term.
If, however, you’re comfortable with a chainsaw and are going the DIY route, some trees can be cut down without a professional. Here are nine steps to safely remove your tree.
Wear Safety Gear
Safety is a critical factor when it comes to felling trees and running chainsaws. Whenever you are working with this heavy machinery, don’t forget the essential gear that will keep you safe from injury:
- Earplugs or muffs for your ears (such as high-quality electronic hearing protection)
- Gloves on both hands made of leather
- Sturdy boots without any holes in them where rocks can get stuck inside
Depending on your location, you may need to be certified or licensed before you handle a chainsaw. Be sure that it is legal for you in your area, and get help if needed!
Check Your Tree
When cutting large trees, it’s essential to do a quick analysis for safety precautions. If your tree consists of dead or broken branches, they can quickly become hazardous when they fall. Unfortunately, there’s not going to drop into a nice tidy pile to be conveniently removed. Before engaging in a tree fall, check your property area for potential obstructions, such as buildings, power lines and electrical boxes. You will also need a reasonable estimation of where your tree will land.
Estimate the Felling Zone: How to dictate where Your Tree will Fall
The axe handle trick is a way for loggers to estimate where the tree will fall and how much ground it will cover.
Follow these steps to perform the “axe handle trick”
- Take a few steps back and face the tree.
- Hold your axe on its handle vertically. It should be at arm’s length. Proceed to close one eye.
- Gradually step back from your tree. Stop when you see the top of your axe level with your treetop. The axe handle’s bottom should also be even with the tree’s base.
- Your feet should be in the position on where the treetop will lie upon falling.
Clearing Escape Routes
Felling a tree can be one of the most dangerous jobs in forestry. Even when you’re sure which way it will fall, making your escape routes and taking care not to trip over any brush requires careful planning. Cut away any branches on either side of the trunk before cutting through with a chainsaw or axe. To avoid any unforeseen problems during your tree fell, check for protruding roots and mark them in advance of your retreat.
Since trees can tumble in multiple directions after they hit the ground, ensure a distance of about 15 meters from the tree.
Check Your Tree
Be sure to find a healthy tree that is sturdy and standing tall. If it looks like the tree you are cutting may lean in one direction, make your cut on the opposite side of where it leans. This will ensure that when it does fall over, its weight won’t cause any damage to nearby objects. If there are power lines, fences or houses nearby, calling a tree surgeon is highly advised.
Depth of the Notch
To make sure that the tree falls in the right direction, it is essential to put a notch on what would be considered its “fall side”. If the stump is considerable in size, you can simply cut down the base later. The notch’s dept should be one-fifth of your trunk’s diameter.
Cut the Notch
Before cutting your tree, mark your notch on the bark with chalk or with your chainsaw. The notch should be at a working height that’s comfortable for you.
Saw through your top cut and then to the bottom. It should be about a 45-degree angle going down. During the bottom cut, use your thumb to control the throttle of your chainsaw. Once you’ve met the top notch, a wedge will fall out.
Pounding Your Wedges In
If your tree has more than 18 inches diameter, cut into the bark until you’re far enough to pound in the wedges. Proceed to finish cutting off your tree. A tree’s diameter and height can cause the tree top to move multiple feet, changing it’s center of gravity. Larger trees generally take 3-4 wedges, while smaller trees can only need one.
Making the Cut
Before cutting, make your way to the opposite side of the tree’s notch. Start an even back cut slightly above your notch, perhaps about an inch. You’ll then create a hinge, which means you won’t cut all the way through the tree. As your tree begins to lean, instantly pull your chain saw and take one of your escape routes to safety.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.