How to cut down a tree

There can be many reasons why you want to cut down a tree. It may be because the tree is shading from the sun, or that it just needs renewal or cleaning up in the garden. No matter what the reason for the tree to be cut down is, this guide is a great help. Many things can go wrong when you are cutting down trees. One especially common risk is the tree toppling over an unwanted road or settlement, thus hitting the house, a car or in the worst scenarios, people. Of course, this is something you want to avoid at all cost, and it is therefore important to plan properly. Especially dead trees, or trees with a disease, can be difficult to fell. This is because they are often fragile, which makes them erratic. This leads to, among other things, difficulty in predicting when and in which direction they will topple. Therefore, you must do your preparation, with safety in high priority.

Rules and when to cut down the tree

There are no rules or laws that say that you must not cut down a tree that is in your garden or on your land. However, there may be conservation regulations, or a local plan, that determines whether or not you may fell a tree. In most cases though, it is for you to decide whether or not the trees on your property gets to see another day.

If you do decide that it is time for a tree to go, then there is something you should consider beforehand. It can be difficult to know when it is best to cut down a tree and at what time of year it is optimal. In the case of smaller trees, it does not make much difference when the tree is felled. It can most often be performed at any time of the year. If the wood is to be used for timber, it is an advantage to fill it in the winter. This is based on the water content of the wood. In the winter the wood has a low content of water which means that it does not settle. Most trees have also shed their leaves in the winter, which means that they are not so much affected by the wind, and there is less cleaning. However, it is significantly harder to saw in a tree with a lot of liquid, in severe frost. So when to cut down a tree depends a bit on what you are going to use it for. If you don’t care about the timber, then you might as well cut it down in the summer, when the weather is pleasant outside and the liquid isn’t frozen.

What safety precautions should I take? 

First and foremost, make sure that there are no other people within the radius at which the tree could fall. You should have a couple of helpers pulling ropes to help the tree on its way, and they should be placed outside the reach of the tree.

If the tree is placed in an enclosed area, you should also clear an escape route before you start the felling of the tree – should things go wrong.

Chainsaws are cool. Very cool. On the other hand, they are also quite dangerous and there are large consequences when the chainsaw goes astray, and you should take really good care. Do not align your head with the saw, and always use safe, and measured movements. Nor can it be stressed enough that you need to use safety equipment. You should always wear gloves, a helmet with a visor, hearing protection, safety trousers with cutting inserts, safety boots and also safety leg rails if possible. If you accidentally cut incorrectly and the saw continues down towards your legs or feet, you can get off very, very wrong. Therefore, you must wear safety equipment that protects your life and your limbs from the saw. If in doubt, always contact a professional tree surgeon. 

Cutting down the tree

Start by removing any branches that get in the way. Both for your work and the optimal fall of the tree.

If you are a little worried about the direction, you can tie one or more ropes around the tree, which helpers can then pull on. Set them as high as possible.

Now make your precut. It is the wedge that controls the direction of the fall, and it should go a maximum of one third into the tree. Start by cutting diagonally from the top, and make a horizontal cut afterwards. Aim for a 45-degree angle.

Now you make the felling cut. Cut horizontally from the back of the tree and place the cut a little higher than the tip of your wedge. The cut should end a few inches before the wood is sawn through, but you will probably need to knock a few iron wedges into the wood when you are about halfway through so that the trunk does not close together around the saw blade.

Push or pull the tree in the direction it should fall.

Remember to shout ‘timber’, and pat yourself on the shoulder – if it went well. Then the felling also feels even better.

All that is left now is to remove the timber, branches and other fragments that are left after the felling. This cleanup process can be quite a hassle, especially with larger trees. Often you have to cut out the tree into smaller pieces, small enough so that you and a friend of yours can lift the timber together. This is often the point in time where you realise how heavy wood is, and how much damage it actually can do if felled incorrectly. Another option is to call a local tree surgeon or another company that specialises in transportation and let them do the job for you. They are professional and they have the equipment for the job, so the cleanup process is done much faster, and much cleaner.

That is everything you need to know on how to fell a tree correctly. Now make sure to remember that safety always comes first. Good luck!