Standing trees provide many benefits, including shade, shelter, food and green spaces. Trees, as with any living thing, are susceptible to disease and age. Trees that are diseased or dead need to be cut down. Trees intended for firewood also must be cut for use. To safely cut down a tree, follow the steps in precise order to ensure safety and avoid damage to surrounding plants or buildings.
Preparing to Cut
Look at the tree. Determine which way the tree is leaning. Look at all sides of the tree to find the lean, as all trees have even a slight lean. This is the direction that the tree will fall when cut, regardless of where it is cut.
Look around area, noting if there is anything in the way for the tree to catch on on the way down. Check the branches so they will not be caught on other branches or wires. Estimate the height of the tree and determine the amount of ground needed for the tree to lay flat on the ground. Estimate the distance to any buildings or other obstructions along the path that the tree will fall.
Remove any obstructions, if possible. Cut the tree in sections to reduce the amount of the lay when the tree falls; this can include cutting branches before felling the tree trunk.
Cutting the Tree
Face the tree so that the tree is leaning towards you. Make a horizontal cut into the trunk, cutting one-third of the way into the trunk at your waist level. Remove the saw slowly; if you are using a chain saw, keep the saw running while removing the saw to avoid getting the saw caught in the tree. Make other horizontal cuts roughly the same distance up the tree trunk, if needed, to fell the tree safely.
Make the next cut at a 45-degree downward angle above the horizontal cut. Start this cut above the horizontal cut, on the same side as the first cut. Cut down to the horizontal line. This forms a wedge-shaped portion. Do not remove the wedge at this time.
Start the next series of cuts, if there are more than one to be made, at the uppermost horizontal cut, making wedge cuts down the trunk.
Stand on the opposite side of the tree to the cuts made in Steps 1 and 2. Make a cut into the trunk 3 inches above the original horizontal cut. This creates a hinge that helps control the fall of the tree. Continue sawing until the tree cracks.
Place yourself opposite to the direction of the fall line. Get your hands and body clear of the tree when you hear the tree cracking. Stop sawing immediately. Wait for the tree to fall before continuing.
Cut the fallen section into manageable pieces. Remove the branches and fallen sections before continuing to cut further.