Cutting Down a Tree

Cutting down a tree can improve safety around the home. Falling limbs can cause severe damage to the house and surrounding structures, and diseased trees are an eyesore and a threat to other trees in the area. Sod laying and tree removal is best left to professionals or people experienced with a chainsaw. If this is your first experience wielding a chainsaw, practice on small trees before attempting to fell the trees near your home.

Cutting down a tree requires at least two people. It is important for your safety to dress appropriately. Wear a hard hat, protective eye wear and ear protection at all times. Long pants, long sleeves, steel-toed boots and good work gloves protect you and your partner from injury.

Prepare the Drop Zone

There are several factors to take into consideration before cutting down a tree. The drop zone is the area where the tree is meant to fall. Examine the tree and drop zone carefully to prevent injury and property damage. Look at the tree's natural lean and use it as a guide. If the direction of the lean will not give you an appropriate drop zone, you will have to accommodate the lean when felling the tree.

Consider all of your options for a drop zone. Identify nearby structures, and consider the height of the tree relative to the distance of buildings and other trees that could be damaged in its drop zone. Also determine if the drop zone is level. If it isn't, prepare for the tree to roll. If the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, that can alter the tree's trajectory.

Examine the crown of the tree and whether that weight corresponds to the way the tree leans. If the crown is heavy, it can change the direction of the fall. Look for loose limbs that could fall and injure you and your partner. Finally, look at the health of the trunk. If it seems rotted or splintered, it could split on the fall.

Once the drop zone is prepared, plan your escape. Have a clear path at least 20 feet from the stump. Run at a 45-degree angle away from the back of the tree in case the tree kicks back. It is helpful to have another tree nearby to hide behind.

Direct and Cut the Tree

Using a ladder, tie a long rope around the trunk as high as you can. Tie the other end of the rope to a sturdy tree near the drop zone. Make the face cut. This guides the tree to drop in the proper direction. Make a notch in the side of tree facing the drop zone with the blade coming down at a 45-degree angle. Cut one-third of the way through the tree trunk.

The back cut is the second and final cut that will bring the tree down. Clear the drop zone to prepare for the tree to fall. Make a horizontal cut 1 or 2 inches above the bottom of the face notch. Cut slowly, checking that your cut remains horizontal. Cut through, leaving about one-tenth of the width of the trunk to make the hinge. This uncut portion prevents the tree from falling back.

Once you have made the hinge, wait for the tree to fall. It should start to come down immediately, but resist the urge to cut further if it doesn't. Insert a plastic wedge into the back cut if the tree needs help, and wait for the sound of the hinge cracking. As it begins to fall, back away immediately. Never turn your back, and always observe safety when cutting down a tree.

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