Trees are valuable elements in nature. They provide us with shade, windbreaks, and natural beauty in our gardens. Plus, well-maintained trees might significantly increase the market value of a home. However, there are occasions when those trees must be chopped down. They may have become an eyesore or a nuisance, or they may be obstructing the view of the house. It is estimated that around 700 hectares of trees are cut down in the UK each year.
You may already know how to plant a tree or get rid of stumps, but do you know how to cut down one? Arborists and forestry workers cut down trees for various reasons, the most common of which is to gain access to logging wood. This can be contentious and sometimes unsafe. It’s not as simple as turning on the chainsaw with safety in mind. There are a few things to consider when cutting down a tree so keep on reading as we walk you through the whole experience.
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What to consider before cutting down your tree
You will have an easier time with tree felling if you take a good, hard look at it beforehand. Then, answer the following questions:
- Is it skewed to one side rather than the other?
- Are there any branches that appear to be broken or dead?
- Is there a free space where it can fall safely without causing damage?
- Are there any branches from a nearby tree that are in the way?
Figure out a quick and easy escape route while you’re at it. You must be able to go as far away from the tree as possible if things do not go as planned.
Step-by-step guide: How to cut down a tree safely
To make your tree-cutting experience more safe and efficient, follow these steps:
1. Sound it out
Knock against the tree with your axe to get a sense of what’s going on. It’s possible that you have to face a dead tree if it sounds hollow. If it sounds firm, it’s live wood and cutting it will be more difficult. Carry this out at various places and heights.
2. Determine where it will fall
Indeed, it is difficult to know the exact height of the tree but consider whether there is a tendency for the tree to lean one way or the other. Choosing a felling zone that falls where the tree naturally wants to land is the easiest and greatest option. If you don’t choose a level spot, the tree may roll, bounce, or otherwise move, causing damage or injury.
3. Make a horizontal cut
This first cut should be no more than one-third of the way into the tree and should not be higher than your hip. It should be at a 70-degree angle while sawing to a depth of 25% of the tree’s diameter. Keep in mind that this horizontal way to cut will cause the tree to fall perpendicularly.
4. Make a Wedge Cut
This second cut should result in a hit that looks like an orange slice. Put one stick on the opposite side of the horizontal place you cut, whether you’re doing it from the top or bottom, to ensure a straight wedge cut.
5. Make a cut in the back
This top cut will decide the thickness of your holding wood, which will impact how the tree will fall. Make sure it’s as thick as possible. Determine where you want the back cut to be and make a note on the tree.
For best results, it should be at least 3 cm above the horizontal cut. Place a felling wedge between the tree and the chainsaw bar as you cut to prevent the tree from settling onto the chainsaw.
6. Prepare yourself
When you’re finished with your back cut, you should have an even holding wood. Either that or the tree will start falling down. Continue to add wedges as needed, and always be prepared to flee at any time while making sure to put on safety gear which would include a hard hat, safety glasses and work gloves to protect yourself.
After you stop cutting and the tree starts to fall, use your escape path to get out of the way. You can drastically lower your chances of being harmed by keeping a watch on the falling tree at all times.
What to do with the cut tree and its branches
When you cut down a tree in parts, you will be left with a lot of debris and branches. Here are some suggestions on how you can utilise them for some DIY projects:
This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective projects. Take a large tree branch and start right away! There are many step-by-step guides out there that can give you a fantastic result. Then decorate your shelves and upgrade your home decoration!
These are the most straightforward and most enjoyable items to build. Split a branch running along the middle and trim it to make a hook. You can use your new hooks to hang plants from your ceiling and so much more!
3. Photo frame or mirror
Why don’t you try your skills in something like that? We bet that you can do it if you have the proper guidance! And think about the brilliant pieces that you can make and decorate your space. You can use your DIY mirrors to make any room look bigger and more beautiful.
4. Wood chips
Whether you have a lot or a few tree branches, turning them into wood chips for mulch and landscaping décor is a great idea. Or you can use them for your fireplace to create a cosy atmosphere.
5. Garden support
Using leftover tree branches for newly planted or growing flowers is particularly handy in spring and summer. To support delicate and developing plants in your garden, use yarn and branches. This provides baby plants with the stability they require to develop into strong and healthy mature ones.
When to cut down a tree
Trees that have more detrimental effects than benefits must be taken down. Here’s how to know when to cut down a tree:
1. Illness signs
Sick trees can lead to a variety of issues on your property. They have the potential to harm buildings, injure people, impede roadways, and much more when they fall. They also spread diseases to other healthy trees in your garden, wreaking havoc.
Look for diseased trees in your backyard and, if they can’t be saved, remove them. It’s likely that a tree is sick if it suddenly loses a lot of leaves. Sickness is indicated by discoloured or shrivelled leaves that remain attached to the branches.
Look for any cracks in the trunk. A rotting trunk is frequently an indication of bacterial or fungal infection. You could find rot at the base of the tree if you look closely.
Felling cuts from lawnmowers and continual waterlogging can all harm and destroy the roots. If a small tree doesn’t shade its bark, the peeling could be an indication of disease or illness as well.
2. Fungus growth
The appearance of fungi on a tree is often a sign that it is sick. The majority of fungi thrive on a tree trunk that has previously been injured. Some, on the other hand, can also attack and harm a healthy tree. Root rot, foliar wilt, and canker disease are all caused by fungi.
Fungus-infected trees generally lose their strength and develop discoloured or wilted leaves. The presence of mushrooms near the tree’s trunk or base suggests deterioration. But not all fungus is harmful to your trees! In fact, certain fungi are beneficial to them. Keep in mind, though that if the fungus damage is severe, you should chop it down before the tree falls.
3. Pests on trees
Birds, insects, reptiles, and rodents use your trees as a home. Although most of these animals are harmless, others can be hazardous or annoying. While you can usually control them, there are instances when you have no choice but to tear down the trees that attract them.
4. Invasive roots
Vertical and horizontal roots can be found in trees. If the horizontal roots develop in the wrong direction, they can be disastrous. Larger trees have many metres of roots that can reach the home foundation and cause issues. Concrete driveways and pedestrian paths can also be damaged. Tree roots can develop to the point where they collide with sewer lines and water pipes.
5. Overhanging branches
If overhanging branches grow outwards, get too heavy, and collapse under their own weight, they can cause a lot of harm. They can injure people or even animals that are around. Overhanging branches can cause damage to buildings and exterior elements by collapsing on them as well. Imagine what will happen if they fall on power lines! It will create a power outage and all the losses that come with it. If cutting down the bothersome overhanging limbs isn’t an option, remove the entire tree.
6. Limited space
When you have multiple landscaping ideas for your garden, space can be limited. You may have ideas to expand your home, plant a garden, create a shed, or even a cool gazebo. In such circumstances, you may need to take down some trees to make room. Determine if tree removal is worthwhile based on its value and the landscape elements you desire.
7. Harsh weather damage
Harsh weather, particularly in the winter, causes trees and limbs to fall, resulting in significant property damage. If fallen trees hinder roads and trails, you’ll have to clear the route by cutting them down. Strong winds and moist soil caused by a severe storm can harm tree roots and branches. After severe weather, get professional help from an arborist. They’ll tell you whether you should save the tree or cut it down to avoid future damage.
At the end of the day, tree cutting is a serious decision that homeowners should not take lightly. We hope our guide has helped you get all the important information that you need for this task! Oh! And don’t forget to cover all the safest practices!