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7 Steps to Successfully Felling a Dangerous Tree

Trees will need to be cut down if they are diseased, dead, or growing in the wrong place. Proper planning and site preparation are crucial for safe tree removal. Before you begin with the process, it is important to check the local regulations. Permits and approvals may be required based on the size of the tree and its location on your property.

Here are 7 steps to successfully felling a tree that has created some sort of hazard.

1. Determine Safety

Felling a dangerous tree means that safety precautions cannot be ignored. Take a walk around the tree and check all the obstructions. This can include:

  • Buildings
  • Power lines
  • Heavy growth
  • Electrical boxes

Make an estimate of the fall area. If there are lots of dead or broken branches or the tree is diseased, all those branches are likely to fall down as you work.

2. Gather All the Tools

Once you have made the safety assessment, you should gather all the safety gear and tools. This includes:

  • Work gloves
  • A hard hat
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety glasses
  • A chainsaw
  • Feeling wedges

Before you pick up a chainsaw, you may need to get a permit from the local authorities and even from your homeowners association.

3. Estimate the Tree’s Fall

When it comes to estimating the tree’s fall, you have to consider many factors. Measuring the tree’s height can be difficult. Evaluate the tree for:

  • Disease
  • Uneven growth
  • Overcrowding

If a tree is heavier on one side, it will fall on that side no matter what you try to change the direction. Follow these steps to determine where the top of the tree will fall:

  • Hold an axe at an arm’s length
  • Close an eye and walk away from the tree
  • Stop when the top and bottom of the axe align with that of the tree

The point where you stand is a rough estimate of where the top of the tree will fall.

4. Prepare Site

This is also a part of the safety precaution step. The site should be prepared to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Children and pets should be as far away from the felling area
  • If anyone is not working on the tree, ask them to leave
  • Decide two escape paths that provide a safe and quick exit from the planned falling direction
  • Clear all obstacles along the escape route
  • Keep all the tools at least 20 feet away from the tree and not in an escape route

5. Notch Planning

Determine the heavier side of the tree. This will be the fall side and the notch will have to be made on this side. Place the cut at a comfortable height. Even if it seems that the stump will become too big, you can always cut it down after the tree has been felled.

Follow these steps to cut the notch:

  • Place the top cut with a 45 downward angle
  • Place a 1/3 cut into the trunk
  • Place a second cut just below that, parallel to the ground

6. Inserting Wedges

Wedges can be helpful if your tree has a diameter of 18 inches or more. They prevent the saw from being pinched. Once you have placed the notch, start the felling cut. Insert wedges when the cut is the right size.

7. Place the Felling Cut

It is the felling cut that will make the tree fall.

  • Move over to the side of the tree opposite from the notch
  • Choose a spot greater than one inch above the notch and start placing an even back cut
  • The goal should be to create a hinge and not cut all the way

Once the tree begins to move, stop, and take one of the escape routes.

This should complete the process and will be followed by removing the branches and cutting them into firewood. Since a lot of safety risk is involved in the process, it is recommended to get professional help with tree felling.

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