DIY Tree Removal Guide
How to Proceed Safely
March 25, 2021
Motivated homeowners who love taking on projects themselves are certainly inspiring. But they could also be putting themselves and others in danger if their project goes awry. Follow this DIY tree removal guide for smaller trees. Leave larger trees to the professionals.
DIY Tree Removal Guide
Some trees are easy to remove yourself. First, evaluate the situation:
- Is it newly planted but has to move?
- Can you remove it without getting on a ladder?
- Is the area clear of breakable obstacles?
If you can answer yes to these questions, please continue. If not, call a professional. You may even want to consult with a certified arborist anyway. They can fully evaluate the situation and give you the best advice.
When you’re ready to take on the project, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Prepping the Trees
- Prune any dead or broken branches. Not only will you have to anyway if you’re transplanting the tree, but it’s one less thing to worry about in the removal process.
- Notice if the tree is leaning to one side. It’s more likely to fall towards the side of the lean when it’s coming down.
- Estimate a falling zone and clear the area. The unpredictability of a falling tree requires you to be prepared for anything. Clear the brush around the tree and choose two different escape routes.
- Water the soil around the tree the day before you plan to remove it. This makes it easier to dig up.
- Wear proper gear. Goggles, gloves, earplugs, helmet, anything that will keep you safe and comfortable around falling branches.
- Measure your tree trunk. For every inch, plan to dig six inches deep to reach the entire root system. Roots are also likely to extend out to the outer edge of the tree’s canopy.
- Use these measurements to start digging around your tree.
Cutting the Trees
- Cut a notch on the side of the trunk you want the tree to fall.
- Make the top cut first and then the bottom.
- Score a line connecting the notch on both sides for a cutting guide.
- The back cut should be parallel and even with the apex of the notch.
- Then make the felling cut.
- When the tree begins leaning, pull the saw free and head toward one of your escape routes, keeping an eye on the tree so you can react if it doesn’t fall the way you planned. Never look away from a falling tree.
- Enlist a lookout. This trusted assistant should stand a few feet behind you watching for falling branches and letting you know when the tree starts to fall.
DIY Tree Removal
- If the tree is small enough, remove the root ball. Using leverage, wiggle the ball out.
- Keep the roots intact if you plan on transplanting the tree. Cut it up with a chainsaw for disposal.
- For larger trees, once it’s on the ground, start cutting off branches. Start at the bottom of the trunk and work up.
- Cut the trunk into more manageable hauling pieces or firewood.
Professional Tree Removal
Even for the most experienced DIYers, there’s no shame in asking for help, especially when safety is at stake. If the tree is too large, too close to your house, or in danger of disturbing utility lines, call a pro with the equipment, experience, and insurance needed to do the job safely. Contact Elite Tree Care for advice on removing a tree yourself or a tree removal quote.
Download Your FREE Tree Removal Guide
Even dedicated DIYers should think twice before taking on the task of tree removal. Our guide will help you decide whether to hire a tree service and how to get the most value for your money.