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Felling Trees Safely

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Tree Felling Safety Removing Tree Safely

There may be numerous reasons why you want to cut down a tree in your garden. It may already have died or might have become infected and begun to rot or it might simply be so tall and wide that it creates too much shade in your garden. Or perhaps it’s situated in an area where you have plans to build something in your garden or it could be creating a danger for children who may be playing nearby. Whatever the reasons for wanting to get rid of it it’s important that you do it safely and that you’re also confident and experienced enough to do it yourself and know what you’re doing.

Felling Trees in Stages
If your garden is not very big and the tree isn’t too big either, you’ll probably be best to cut it down in stages by cutting its branches off first. In this instance, you should remove all the branches from the bottom up beginning with those you can reach without the need for a ladder.

Depending on what equipment you have and how thick the branches are, you’ll either use a hand saw, be it a small one or the type of 2-man manually-operated ones you may have seen lumberjacks using or, most probably, an electrical chainsaw. Both these cutting tools can be very dangerous but a chainsaw especially so and there is another article on this site devoted to Chainsaw Safety.

Once the branches are higher than your head, you’ll need to get above them to cut them down safely. Never under any circumstances should you attempt to saw off any branches that are above your head. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, branches – especially in weaker or dead trees, can come off quicker than you expect and could cause injury or even death if they were to fall on top of you. Once you’ve cut off all of the branches that are accessible from the ground, you’ll need to climb a ladder or even climb up into the tree itself to get at other branches. Here, you should enlist the help of another person to steady the ladder and they’ll also be vital for ensuring your safety once you begin cutting. If you’re using a chainsaw, for example, always saw to the side of you but make sure that you’ve tied a rope to the other end of the branch and have another person hold the other end of the rope who can then pull the branch away from you when it starts to fall. Branches can give way suddenly and if you’re not prepared, you could run the risk of falling with them.

Tall Trees
In general our advice is that tall trees should be tackled only by a professional, trained tree suregeon.

If you are confident and have a tree that you want to fell yourself and you have enough space in the garden for it to topple safely in without damaging any property or injuring people, you may want to take it down in one. To do that, you’ll need to cut a V-shaped slit on the off side of the tree near the bottom of its trunk before you begin to saw on the opposite side to that which you want the tree to fall. Once again, enlist someone’s help to tie a rope as high up on the trunk as possible and attach the other end to a sturdy fixed structure so that the tree will fall in the direction you want it to.

Alternatively, if your garden’s large, you can tie the rope to the tree and to a vehicle such as a tractor or heavy truck. Then drive the vehicle forward in the direction you want the tree to fall putting full tension on the rope. However, if you attempt this, you must make sure that the rope is sufficiently long enough so that the tree won’t crush the vehicle when it topples.

Clothing
You should always remember to wear a hard helmet, safety goggles and thick gardening gloves whenever you are felling a tree.

Get the Professionals In
No matter how keen a gardener you are, you should swallow your pride when it comes to felling trees, if necessary, because it is not for the faint hearted. There have been countless numbers of accidents when felling trees caused by falling branches, incorrect use of equipment, inexperience, trees falling onto people and devastating injuries caused by accidents when using a chainsaw, even if the chainsaw user is experienced. For example, sometimes a branch might get snagged in the saw or you could lose your balance when up a tree.

So, unless you’re 100% confident about felling a tree yourself, it’s always better to get the experts in to do this job and you’ll find plenty of tree surgeons and professional gardening services in your local Yellow Pages which will not only fell your tree for you but who will also remove it too.

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Thanks for your great website. I would like to know where in South Africa i can find a machine to mill branches of trees especially when you finish cutting down a tree and you need to grind the branches or the tree into very small chunks you will use for the compost? regards Gondai
g - 17-May-11 @ 5:35 PM
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