Tree removal guide

Trees are Mother Nature’s lovely shields of protection along the edges of your property. They provide shade, create oxygen, provide a safe haven for lovely bird species, moderate climate, hold soil in place, and help keep air and water clean, increase property value, and provide beauty. But when a tree poses risks to the people and objects in its shade below, sometimes it makes more sense to remove it rather than letting it grow rampantly.

When is it time to remove a tree?

Removing a tree is a big decision that should not be taken lightly, but think carefully as it takes years to replace a tree once it’s removed.

Sings it may be time for tree removal are:

  • Decay-producing fungi, such as mushrooms, growing at the base of the trunk
  • Severe chipped or peeling bark and cracks in the trunk
  • Holes and cavities forming in the trunk
  • Dead or hanging branches in the upper crown
  • Fine twigs without living buds near the ends of branches
  • The tree is severely leaning
  • The tree is over power lines
  • There is not more space for the tree to grow safely

Should I remove the tree myself or hire a professional?

Cutting down a tree may seem like a difficult task, but it’s actually much easier than removing a tree stump. Whether or not you are still unsure about removing the tree or not, it’s a project best left in the hands of a tree removal specialist, or in other words, an arborist. However, if the tree is relatively short and small, it may be possible to tackle the task yourself.

Large trees should always be removed by professionals as guide ropes and mechanical equipment are needed when removing large limbs that will fall after cutting. If power lines are nearby or in the way, you must contact your local utility company.

Tree removal prep and basic steps

So, if the tree is smaller and easy for you to tackle yourself, follow the steps below to remove it…

Prep Steps:

  • Check the surrounding area for objects that may be in the way.  Stand back and observe the way the tree is naturally leaning. The best fall would be its natural angle of growth.
  • A rotten or hollow tree at the stump height is best left to professionals as you may not be able to control the direction of the fall.
  • Establish two escape routes, one on each side of the tree leading away from the expected fall line.
  • Gather the necessary tools for removal. Be sure you have the correct size electric saw.

For smaller trees you can use a handsaw; however, you will need a chainsaw for trees with a trunk diameter greater than 1ft.

Removal Steps:

  • Cut a 45-degree V into the tree in the direction you want the tree to fall. This is called the undercut and it should be about a quarter of the tree’s diameter deep
  • Cut straight into the oppose site about 2 inches (5.08 cm) above the undercut. This is called the back cut and it releases the stress the undercut places on the tree. Caution:  Do not make your back cut lower than your undercut. This can cause an unpredictable fall.
  • Move out of the way when the tree begins to fall.
  • Remove all the branches, starting from the bottom of the tree
  • Cut the bare log of the tree into 2 foot (60.96 cm) pieces
  • Remove the tree stump. Drill holes into the stump with a drill. Pour wood-eating chemicals into the holes. Let the stump decay away on its own. This takes anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Dig the stump out yourself with a pick and a spade.


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