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Tree Removal: 9 DIY Tips For Cutting Down Trees

Thinking of cutting down a tree on your own? That’s brave! Planting a tree is easy to do yourself, but what about removing one? It may seem exciting and like an “adventure” but DIY tree removal is dangerous; if done incorrectly, you could end up in the hospital.

To make the process easier (and safer!) for you we’ve enlisted 9 steps on how you can cut down a tree on your own.


1. Determine The Safety

If you’re reading this, you’re presumably seeking to cut down a tree that’s larger than the other three-year-old fruit tree in your backyard.
This necessitates safety measures. Cutting down a tree (a.k.a. tree felling) is a huge and dangerous task to attempt on your own.

First off, take note of any damaged, sick, or dead branches that could fall during the process. Trust us, if that’s the case if you may wanna skip to the last step.

Estimate the tree’s fall area. Measure, or make a generous estimate of the tree’s height, then clear the surrounding area to make sure the tree won’t hit anything or anyone on its way down. Look out for obstacles – such as electricity lines, buildings, electrical boxes, and thick foliage.


2. Make Sure You Have All the Right Tools

You need to make certain that you have all the appropriate safety gear at hand.
Here’s the list of the things you’ll need:

  • Hard hat
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Work gloves
  • A chainsaw
  • Felling wedges

Make sure you have an assistant or a buddy who can be by your side while you’re at the job. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one.

You will also need to check with your local council to ensure you’re following the appropriate rules before you get hold of the chainsaw. Here are the protected trees and general guidelines for cutting down trees in the Canterbury region.


3. Estimate The Fall

It’s tough to measure a tree’s exact height and where it may land after felling.

How to determine the tree’s height:
Here’s a simple way to get a rough estimate of your tree’s height. Close one eye and grip an axe at arm’s length. Move away from the tree as needed until the tree’s top and bottom line with your axe’s top and bottom. The tree’s top will fall approximately where you stand.


4. Clear the Escape Routes

Make sure you have a safe route to leave the site. It’s preferable to have two alternative paths, each free of debris. You’ll need a quick exit planned in case anything goes wrong.


5. Plan the Notch

The notch is what allows you to choose which way the tree will fall, so place it on the “fall side”. That way the tree will fall in the notch’s direction.

The fall side should be where the tree looks the heaviest. If the tree is heavier on one side than the other, it may fall towards the heavier side, regardless of where you plan the notch.


6. Make a Notch

Make a notch in the tree on the side that you would like it to fall. Begin with the top cut and work your way down at a 45-degree angle. Cut the trunk approximately a third of the way through. Make a second incision parallel to the ground below that. This horizontal cut should meet up with the first cut to create a triangle shape.


7. Place The Wedges

Wedges may be required depending on the tree you want to cut down. Wedges can help keep your saw from being pinched if the tree’s diameter is more than 18 inches. Wedges are available at any home supply store.
Begin the felling cut once the notch has been made (Step 8). Stop cutting and pound in the wedges as soon as you’ve sliced enough to insert them; then finish the cut.


8. Felling Cut

This is what will cause the tree to fall. Move to the opposite side of the tree from where you created the notch. Begin an even back cut about an inch or more above the notch.
You don’t want to cut all the way through because you want to make a hinge. Stop cutting as soon as the tree begins to move and take one of the pathways to safety.


9. Cut Branches into Firewood

The following process is termed “limbing” once the tree has been cut down. What this implies is that the tree trunk’s branches are removed. Then “buck” the tree by cutting it into 16-inch pieces. Cut approximately three-quarters of the way through, roll the trunk, and finish the cut to avoid hitting the ground with the saw.

After that, you may chop the pieces into logs to use for firewood.


Get help from a pro

A tree service specialist is always equipped with the right kind of tools and training that can bring down any tree with zero hassle.
Our expert Canterbury arborists have 20+ years of experience removing trees in Christchurch, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, and surrounding areas. Give us a call at (0212 1160 14), if you need expert help with your trees. You can also send us a message on our website.