Learning How to Chop Down a Tree

As we're making over our yard, we've had to learn quite a few things – starting a garden from seed, learning what poison oak, ivy, and sumac look like, and cutting back the briers.

This weekend we took on a new challenge – chopping down trees.

Chopping Trees

These two pine trees were growing right against the fence. One them was crowded in between several bushes and a mature tree while the other was shedding onto our neighbor's yard

These are fairly small trees (10 ft) so we felt comfortable taking them down ourselves. (The much larger trees are going to need a professional's touch.)

As exciting as chopping down trees sounds, it can be a little intimidating. People get injured fairly easily by not doing some prepwork and research.

It took a little longer, but the extra effort was worth it. We knocked them down, saved some money, and no one was injured. Win-win!

How to chop a tree down

Do It Yourself or Call a Professional?

If you're looking to cut down some trees, here are some tips to make it easier and more safe.

Don't take on a huge tree. I'm all for doing projects myself, but there is a limit. Besides the size of the tree, you should also consider its:

  • condition– Is the tree rotting? Are there very loose branches that can come down on your head?
  • location –  If the comes down in the wrong direction, could it damage someone or thing?

If you're nervous or in doubt, please call a professional.

Safety First

First thing – make sure you at least have a helmet to protect your head from falling branches, safety glasses to protect your eyes, and gloves.

After reading some tips on safely chopping down a tree, I decided to get an ax rather than a chainsaw. I think it's the right tool for the job; we don't need to go overboard.

If you're chopping down a tree with a chainsaw, here some more stuff you'll need.

Next, you need to make sure your ax is in good working condition.You don't need any part coming off while you're chopping, so a an inspection can be a lifesaver.

Finally have a spotter with you. They can warn you of any falling branches from above and help you should something happen.

How to Chop Down a Tree

Here's the very basic process on how we chopped our pine trees. Here are some more tips on chopping down a tree if you want to read more.

  1. Cut a v-shaped notch in the direction we wanted the tree to fall (about 1/3 of the diameter).
  2. Cut another notch on the opposite side slightly above the first notch.
  3. Continue shopping that first notch.
  4. Remove tree out of area.

I should also note we also had an escape route to use should the tree fall in a different direction than expected. Neither one of us wanted to get crushed!

Thoughts on Chopping Down a Tree

As an added bonus to having less crowded yard, we got workout this weekend. Who knows, maybe I'll get some toned arms out of this makeover?

I'd love to hear from you. How many of you have some young trees that need to be chopped down?

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