If a tree is near the edge of your property or has been growing unattractively, it may be time to cut it down. But, like any dangerous job, tree cutting is a very risky operation and can lead to injury or death if not done properly.
The most important thing to do before starting tree cutting is to scout out the area. This includes assessing the tree for uneven growth, disease, overcrowding, and other factors that could cause it to fall in unsafe places.
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Once you’ve scouted the area, you can start felling the tree by creating a notch that will guide it down safely. The notch will also help to keep the tree from hitting objects such as fences or driveways when it falls.
To create a notch, stand facing the direction that you expect the tree to fall, and make two cuts on the side of the trunk that will be falling at a downward angle (Figure 1). Continue making the first cut until it’s around one-third of the way through the trunk. The bottom of the cut should be about two feet from the ground.
Next, make a back cut on the opposite side of the notch. This cut disconnects almost all of the tree from the stump and allows it to fall with little stress.
Depending on the size of the tree, you might need to make two or more cuts. This can take up to a few hours to complete, and it’s a good idea to have an assistant with you who will be able to watch the tree for any limbs that may fall.
Be careful not to push the tree too hard, as this can cause it to fall over and break into a bunch of pieces. Once the notch is made, remove it with a saw or shears so that the tree can be shaken out of any sticks and branches that are still attached to it.
If the tree has interlocking branches from other trees, separate them before you cut it down. This will prevent any branches from falling on you or your equipment.
You’ll need to select a safe spot for the cut and stay away from power lines, streams, rivers, lakes, and wet areas. In addition, you’ll need to get a permit from the local government for the work you’re doing.
Before you begin cutting, be sure to scout out the area and check the weather forecast for any rain or storms. If it’s likely to rain, wait until the weather is milder.
When you’re ready to cut the tree, use a saw that has a bar that is longer than the diameter of the stump. This is the safest option because it will allow you to control the tree’s fall better.