Does that tree in your yard seem larger now that you plan to remove it? It’ll be easier to handle when you have the proper knowledge. In this ultimate guide to tree removal, we’ll outline the necessary preparation, removal and cleanup steps to simplify the process.
What to Do Before Tree Removal
You must ensure you are allowed to cut the tree down before you start. Many locations require permits and some spaces can be restrictive when it comes to your landscaping, so planning ahead is smart.
The three main things you should do before tree removal include:
- Covering your legal bases: As long as the entirety of the trunk is in your yard, the tree belongs to you. If it’s partly on your neighbor’s property, you have to get permission to cut it down because you share ownership.
- Making sure the area is clear: Move all furniture, vehicles and movable objects out of your yard to protect them from falling branches.
- Planning your process: Set a timeline and decide how to approach the process before you begin.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it covers the most essential concerns. Making sure the area is clear and that you have permission to remove the tree is essential.
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How to Choose the Proper Equipment
You might not be a professional, but dressing like one is wise. You’ll need safety goggles, gloves and closed-toe shoes to ensure safety. It’s also smart to wear earmuffs for hearing protection and a hard hat to protect your head.
You may need heavy machinery if your tree has a tall, thick trunk. A spider lift is among the most common tree removal equipment because it can maneuver well in narrow spaces and reach greater heights, meaning it’ll navigate your backyard well. If you want something more simple, your option is a ladder.
The cutting equipment depends on whether you remove large or small trees. You can use a chainsaw to remove a large tree or a saw and shears for small tree removal. Overall, it’s best to use equipment that you’re familiar and comfortable with.
What You Can Do With the Wood
You can use it as firewood, donate it to someone local or throw it in a lumber chipper. It might even be a good idea to sell it, considering wood cost over $1,500 per thousand board feet recently. Whatever you decide to do with it, it’s best to gather it in one place as soon as possible to keep the area safe and clean.
How to Remove a Large Tree
Large tree removal takes patience, especially in a neighborhood or small yard. Approach each step carefully and with the right equipment.
1. Size Up the Tree
Trees are often bigger than they look from the ground, so it’s better to size them up to keep them from falling on your house or fence. If you can, measure the length of the trunk and main branches. Know where you’ll cut them and plan for where they’ll fall.
2. Remove the Small Branches
Start from the smallest and work your way up to save the most complex work for later. Be careful trimming the ones hanging over power lines or your roof since they can cause property damage. Some may require “V-shaped” cuts if they’re a bit thicker.
3. Cut the Large Branches
You should handle the main branches with care because they’re likely heavier and longer than they seem. If they’re too long, you may have to cut them in half before fully removing them to avoid hitting anything on the ground. The first cut should be 18 inches out from the trunk. Start from the underside and cut about halfway through, then do it again from above a few inches down.
4. Make the Initial Cut
The initial cut into the trunk determines where the tree will fall. Pick a direction where it won’t hit any objects or structures and cut on that side. Make the cut at about a 70-degree angle and continue cutting until you’re one-third of the way through the trunk. Keep in mind you might not be able to choose where it’ll fall if it leans too far one way.
5. Bring the Tree Down
To fell the tree, go on the opposite side of your initial notch and cut in a straight line. Make sure you do it at the right height. Remember that you have no control over the tree as soon as it starts to fall. The smartest move is to get out of the way. Walk away while keeping your eyes on the tree so you can react quickly if it changes direction.
How to Remove a Small Tree
The biggest difference with small tree removal is that smaller equipment can handle the job. The steps are quite similar.
1. Remove the Branches
Start by removing the branches. You can start from the smallest and work your way up, but there might not be much difference in their circumference if it’s a small enough tree.
2. Make the Initial Cut
The initial cut is the same as you make to remove a large tree, except you’ll have to be careful not to cut too far since the trunk is thinner. You should still cut the tree in a certain direction to ensure it’s safe.
3. Bring the Tree Down
Go to the opposite side of your initial notch and make a horizontal cut in the trunk. Be careful to get out of the way as soon as it starts to fall — you’re still dealing with a heavy and fast-moving object, even if it’s a small tree removal.
How to Deal With the Stump
The stump can be tricky to deal with unless you prepare beforehand. Most people only think about cutting the tree removal and forget there will be a chunk left in the ground once they’re done.
Although it requires extra effort, your options are straightforward:
- Dig it up: Dig around the stump until roots are showing and chop away at everything you see, then lift it out of the ground and fill the hole you made with dirt.
- Grind it down: You can use specialized equipment to grind away at the stump, although that requires some extra know-how and a bigger budget.
- Burn it: Only burn the stump if you get permission and know how to do it safely. Make sure nothing flammable is nearby.
- Pour something on it: Chemicals to remove stumps exist. You drill holes into the stump and pour the chemicals into the holes. However, this method takes longer.
If you don’t like any of these methods, you can turn the stump into a natural seat or incorporate it into your backyard decor. Any option is acceptable as long as it works for you.
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Tree Removal Made Simple
If you want to remove a tree from your yard, you should plan for trimming, felling, stump removal and cleanup. Sizing up a tree in your yard can make the process feel daunting, but you can tackle it with the right equipment and preparation.
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