Cutting down a tree (aka felling a tree) is not a task you should put on your “do-it-yourself” list. This task should be delegated to a professional unless the tree is small and short. Regardless of who cuts down the tree, safety should always be considered throughout the entire felling process. Also, the one doing the cutting needs to have basic knowledge about tree cutting, which can be found below.
Required Equipment for Tree Cutting
Prior to cutting down your first tree, make sure you have all the required tools in hand. The list below is a compilation of the basic tools needed for felling a tree.
• Chainsaw – A chainsaw filled with oil and functioning with a strong chain.
• Protective Wear – Protective clothing like Kevlar’s leg covering, steel-toe boots, a hard hat, protective eye wear and gloves are good protective gear to wear when felling trees.
• First Aid Kit – Always be prepared with an updated kit should an accident occur.
Questions to Ask Yourself when Examining the Tree First
These questions will help you determine with certainty that a tree needs to be cut down:
1. Is the tree leaning towards a specific direction?
2. Are the branches of a nearby tree interfering with the tree?
3. If the tree were to fall, is the area around it a clear spot where it could fall without causing any harm?
4. Does the tree have broken branches?
While you’re at it, figure out a quick and easy escape route. If things don’t go as planned, you need to be able to get as far away from the tree as quickly as possible. Ideally, you should try to run behind another tree if the tree you are cutting doesn’t fall like it should.
Steps for Cutting Down a Tree
Follow these steps to increase the safety and efficiency of your tree-cutting experience:
1. Sound Check– If you tap on a tree with an ax and hear a hollow sound, that’s a sign of the tree decaying (or it may already be dead). A tree that sounds solid is still alive and will not be as easy to cut as one that is dead. For the tree ready to come down, try tapping in different spots to find an area that sounds like the ideal place to start cutting.
2. Determine Which Direction the Tree l Will Fall – You want the tree to fall in the direction it is already leaning towards naturally. Select a spot that will allow the tree to fall in an area that is flat so the tree does not become mobile after falling (which would cause harm to nearby people and objects).
3. Do a Horizontal Cut – This cut should be made no deeper than a third of the way into the tree and no higher than your hip. Remember that the tree will fall in a perpendicular position to this cut.
4. Do a Wedge Cut – Place a stick on the other side of the horizontal cut when making this slice, which will resemble an orange slice.
5. Do a Back Cut – The holding wood helps dictate the direction the tree will fall. The back cut will establish the thickness of your holding wood, so it should be as thick as you can make it. When you agree on your spot for the back cut (which should be a minimum of 1.5 inches above the horizontal cut), make a mark there. You will need to use a wedge to keep the tree from interfering with the chainsaw.
6. Get Ready to Run – The holding wood should be even after you finish your back cut. If not, then prepare for the tree to already be in motion for falling. Insert more wedges as needed and prepare to run!
7. Run – Keep a watch on the tree as you are running towards your point of safety so you can ensure you don’t get hurt while the tree is falling.
Tree Cutting Prices & Costs Guide
Professional tree cutters are recommended when you want to cut down a tree. After careful research, you should be able to determine which company is offering the most reasonable prices. The price of cutting a tree can range from $125 to $1500 (or more for very large trees). Our tree cutting article should help you determine the costs involved in cutting your tree.
Cutting Tree Roots
Cutting a tree’s roots should be avoided only if there is a real need to do so. Some circumstances that may warrant cutting a tree’s roots are:
• When a tree outgrows its landscape.
• When a tree’s growth is getting too close to your house (posing a potential hazard).
Some trees become damaged when cutting their roots, so the best solution may be to remove the whole tree. You can find guidelines on how to remove a tree in our article on tree removal.
A Final Note on Tree Cutting
As stated earlier, professional tree cutters are recommended when you want to cut down a tree because of the potential dangers involved. If you have no other choice but to do it yourself, then please take the guidelines in this article into careful consideration for your own safety.
Also, make sure there are no laws in your area prohibiting nonprofessionals to cut down trees or else you will be charged a fine for violating the regulation. Because of the risks involved with cutting trees—even for professionals—it’s best to leave the job in the hands of those who have more experience and training.