How to Cut Down a Small Tree

Cutting Down a Small Tree

Always make sure to take proper precautions before attempting to cut a small tree yourself.

Trees are a valuable addition to a landscape, providing shade and beauty. Planting them around your home can improve your curb appeal and property value. In some cases, however, removing a tree can also be the best move for your property, especially when the tree poses a hazard to your family’s safety. Now is the time to make that decision before the harsh weather of winter hits and takes the tree down, causing damage to your property.  Depending on the size of the tree, this may be a job that you can safely take on as a DIY on your own. If you have even the slightest hesitation about doing it, listen to that instinct, and call a professional. If you do decide to take it on, remember these tips based on “the rule of fives” developed by professional loggers.

Protect Yourself

Safety starts with you. You should never attempt this sort of job if you are impaired in any way, including being tired. Make sure that you have a good breakfast and wear appropriate clothing as well. Appropriate clothing includes protection for your eyes, ears, head, legs and ankles, and your hands. Anything that is not protected could cause an issue that distracts you in the middle of a cut, which is dangerous.

Maintain Your Equipment

Always maintain your chainsaw and perform necessary safety checks. Never use a chainsaw without reading and understanding the user’s guide or taking a class.

Inspect Your Surroundings

Before you plan and begin your cuts, you need to check for hazards. This includes anything that the tree could hit or fall on, including things above you like power lines. You will need to clear away any shrubs or branches that the tree could spring off of and look for tripping hazards in your escape route so you can get out safely when you need to.

Have A Plan

Finally, before you begin, you have to have both a felling plan and a stump plan. The felling plan includes details like which is the “bad” side, which would have the most hazards so that you can avoid felling in that direction. You should also identify any side or back lean that could influence how the tree falls. Finally, you need to identify the target where you want the tree to fall. Your stump plan determines how you will make the cuts. The face cut should line up with your target since it determines the direction of the fall. The back cut should be slightly above the bottom line of the face cut and wedged to account for lean. Don’t cut through the hinge, which should measure 80% of the tree’s diameter at breast height. Finally, always check for hazards and team members before making the final cut.

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