Removing an Entire Tree

Written by Amy Gordon (last updated February 23, 2022)


Trees look great in the yard and are generally a wonderful thing to have. Unfortunately, trees are not invincible and will sometimes come down with disease or other such problem that kill the tree off. When this happens, the only choice that you have is to remove the tree.

If it turns out that you have to remove your whole tree, you have two main choices. The first choice is to pay a service to come and remove the tree. Your other option is to remove the whole thing by yourself. If you decide that you want to remove it yourself, you can have a huge project ahead of you.

The first thing that you need to do is to look for things that the tree can potentially fall on and damage. This includes cars, electrical lines, and houses. Unless your tree is out in the middle of a big field, you probably have something that it can fall on when cut down. If you do not think you can cut it down without hitting something, you should call a service.

After you know it is possible not to hit anything, put guidelines on the tree to help it fall in the right direction. After that, place a notch on the tree on the height you want to cut, pointing in the direction that you want the tree to fall down. Remember that the tree will fall toward the cut. You should make the notch one-third the diameter of the tree both in depth and in height. When the notch is in place, start cutting on the side opposite of the notch in toward the notch. Take your time and things should work. Remember, things can go wrong and get out of control, and then you just have to get out of the way. It really is safest just to get a service.

Once the tree is gone, you can remove the trunk by renting a stump grinder. If you do not want to pay the money, you can dig around the stump and use a lot of manual labor to pull the stump out. Another method is to hurry the decomposition system along. This is done by cutting the stump down as low as possible, then drilling big holes in the remainder of the stump. Pour water and nitrogen rich fertilizer all over the stump, then cover the stump with a plastic tarp. Cover the plastic tarp with mulch to help retain moisture. Then wait. You can make things go even faster if you repeat pouring the stump with water and nitrogen every now and then.

After a little while, removing the stump will be easy since it will all be decayed.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...


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What is 1 + 1?

2019-06-10 09:31:18


Things the tree can fall on - include plants, and prepared landscaping surfaces - lawn, pond, driveways, fences, tools , lines and cables above, and below ground - and ... ... especially children and their toys, as well as pets and bystanders without the sense to stay well away.
A tree landing should be expected to bounce whatever it lands on and itself, as well as spraying leaves, twigs, branches over a fairly wide area -
so as well as things to be landed upon, there are also windows, and walls to consider.
And - once landed, the tree can roll - the direction and extent of that roll depending on the branches, slope, and trunk
consider it will act like a brush, or baseball bat thrown behind the batter as they start their run.

So - area cleared, next consideration, where will you pile the tree parts as you disassemble the tree for removal from the site.
Maybe remove some branches before cutting the trunk makes the landing area smaller and the direction of fall easier to identify
but where do you put the offcuts.

For a small tree you may consider having a rope to start the fall - DANGER - a tree, or even a branch falling can snap a rope, or the arm holding the rope, and cut into whatever it hits with the whiplash effect when the tree/branch lands.

OK - consider you have got the tree laying down on the ground.
Now - cutting off branches to get a moveable trunk - as you cut the branches that will alter the centre of gravity of the bulk of the tree.
Also as you cut branches the cut can be compressed so grabbing the saw blade - or splayed open with parts of the branch waving through the space you occupy - hands, legs, feet, head, eyes .

Also - when the branch you are cutting gives way, the tree may roll - away from you, or towards you

Doesn't have to be a round headed tree to roll or collapse breaking the branches it is resting on, even a columnar tree will roll.

OK - tree cut into sections - a trunk and a collection of branches - where will you put the parts as you reduce those bits to a size you can dispose of - put in a container to be taken away, pile up to rot, or burn - again children's safety to consider and a pile may ignite when you do not expect it to do so -middle of summer when the leaves are dry and will float in the rising air - and land in other leaves and wood debris.

Now - you have the trunk to section -
consider that when log cutting the log usually gets put in a sawing frame so it cannot roll, twist, or have the end flip when the parts separate.
difficult to do that with a tree trunk - at least consider wedging it so it cannot roll. and cut small sections that will not crush a foot if they land on it
(And - you are wearing strong steel reinforced boots, goggles, splinter-proof (well resistant) gloves, and head protection - plus, if using a chainsaw, or power circular saw, the proper saw-stop clothing - as in if your clothing gets caught in the saw it will stop the blade.

Yes - taking down a tree of double your height is a major project from the safety and insurance viewpoint

And - now you have the stump and it's roots to consider

Roots will be at least the spread of the tree, and expect them to be more spreading, and some of them 1/4 the trunk diameter .
There may be a vertical tap root surrounded by anchoring roots at 45 degrees to the vertical, and those surrounded by a network of feeder roots just below the soul surface.
So trunk removal will involve clearing the earth from the roots so you can cut the roots - where will you be putting that soil
expect at least a cubic metre/yard of soil to store as you get to the roots .

Don't expect the digging to be easy - cannot chop roots with stones around them, cannot remove stones if the roots are holding them.
It may be worth considering digging a pit alongside the trunk - maybe a metre from the trunk, and then working to the trunk removing roots in bits as you clear out the stones.

OK - now you have the surface roots cut, and can see the next set of roots - or maybe there were only surface roots and the stump fell over.
hopefully, you were not in the part of the hole it fell over onto.
Hope you don't find that the roots are going into drains or foundations.

Maybe rotting the stump is a better idea - or leaving maybe a 2 metre 'feature' to grow plants over
or just incorporate into a pagoda type structure.

There will be subsidence in the surrounding area as the roots rot - so if it's a lawn expect 2" wide channels for the grass cutter blades to catch into, and you to twist an ankle in.

YES - you can deal with a tree yourself

BUT consider
all the risks you should insure for
and the clothing/equipment you should get
the time and effort required
The help you may need - and insurance for the helpers
Your income loss and inconvenience if you injure yourself

Your need to actively think about risks - and the ability to recognise them

A practiced contractor should (usually) recognise risks and accurately assess the mitigation requirements at a swift survey

So - maybe, for any tree more than double your height, or with a trunk over 6" diameter - get a contractor.

And agree a cost of:
Ensuring that the tree can lawfully be removed by the organisation/personnel.
- certificates detailing all insurance permissions and licences etc. needed for the works.
Cut down to what height.
Remove the cut off pieces from the site and dispose of legally - you may need a 'disposed of correctly' certificate.
- or maybe construct a wildlife facility that is, and will remain safe and secure as constructed and as it decomposes.
Remove the stump.
Remove the main subsurface part including any roots within a 2' distance from where the trunk was, and further away if over 3" diameter.
Excavating and removing roots from the area to a depth of at least 2' in an area of 1 metre diameter.
Put the excavated soil into the hole it was dug out from.
Landscape the area as in level, or mounded soil where the trunk was (additional infill, and surface material to be).
Maybe bury root inhibitor to stop roots from nearby trees 9and large shrubs occupying the space.
Maybe deal with any utilities - electricity, gas, water supply, drains, surface and other drainage, watercourses.


Yes -
I recently dealt with a tree that was invading a pool, only 6 metre tall -
2 cu metres of removed soil and stones, (remove larger stones, and revitalise the soil before filling the hole)
a cu metre of shredded material composting,
a small wildlife area with new material (smaller branches and root bits),
and a neighbour supplied with firewood.

And the roots of neighbour's trees that are near the property boundary to be dealt with.
Trench between the boundary and pool to be dug and root inhibitor set into it as well as deal with the current and anticipated effect of roots under the pond.

2016-11-14 08:07:56


why do I see pros make a downward cut on an angle? Please show pictures of where the notch and cut look like


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