What you Need to do Before you Cut Down a Tree

Sometimes trees do need to be felled for safety reasons. They may be compromising power lines, have dead branches or other hazards. Felling a tree can be dangerous, so it is important to be well prepared. You will need council approval, tools including a good chainsaw, and a plan of action.

Check with the Council

You will need to check with your local council to ensure that there are no laws preventing you from removing the tree. If the tree is dead or dying you probably don’t need consent, but it is still best to check. Better to be safe than cop a fine.

Have the Necessary Tools

Besides a chainsaw and lots of common sense, you will need two plastic felling wedges to stop your saw getting pinched in the cuts you are making. A safety hat or helmet, leather chaps and leather gloves, boots and safety goggles are essential.

What size chainsaw you need will depend on the size of the tree. You can hire a chainsaw or you may choose to buy one if you will need to use it more than once. Stihl chain saws have a great reputation.

Get Rid of Obstacles

Remove any obstacles from around the base of the tree; things like lower branches, vines and other vegetation.

The Felling Zone

Trees are generally taller than they look from the ground so overestimate the area you will need to fell the tree. One way to determine where a tree will fall is with the ‘axe handling trick’ To do this you hold the axe at arm’s length then back away from the tree until the top of the axe is even with the top and the bottom of the tree. The position of your feet should be roughly where the treetop will land. This is an estimate so always allow more room.

Make sure you clear the path of the falling tree. Mark the landing spot with a stick that has brightly coloured tape or a rag tied to it.

Make a Notch

Cut a 70 degree notch, with a downward slice first and then an upward cut to complete the notch. The depth of the notch you cut should be one-fifth the size of the trunk’s diameter. The notch will act as a hinge when the tree is being felled. The notch should be cut on the fall side of tree. Make it at a comfortable height.

Make the Back Cut

Mark the side of the tree where you want to stop the back cut. Start the cut on the back of tree and bring it to your mark. When you have space, insert a wedge to stop the saw getting jammed in the tree. Keep looking at the top of the tree of for signs it is moving in any direction and be ready to get out of the way. Move away at a 45 degree angle from the tree. Timber!

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