How to Fell a Tree Away From Your Home


Felling a tree near a home can be a difficult task, full of variables that may cause danger. Before considering cutting down a tree near a house, look at the way the tree leans, suggests Tim Ard of Cornell University, as this is the way the tree will fall when cut. If the tree is facing toward the home, it is best to leave the cutting to a professional. Otherwise, using the right technique will ensure the tree falls away from the home.

Step 1

Estimate the height of the tree by holding a stick at its base so that it is vertical, standing straight up in the air. Hold the stick so that the amount of exposed stick coming up from your hand is equal to the distance of the hand away from your body. Walk backwards keeping an eye on the base of the tree, looking over your hand. Once the top of the tree is visible while staring at the base of the tree from over the top of the stick, mark the spot and measure from the base of the tree to the marked spot. This is the estimated height of the tree.

Step 2

Locate any potential hazards in the direction of the tree lean to prevent accidents. Clear any ground debris from under the direction of the tree's lean, and locate any electrical lines in the area.

Step 3

Plan an escape route for when the tree falls, suggests Tim Ard of Cornell University. Make the escape route so that it is in a 45 degree angle from the direction the tree will fall.

Step 4

Make the first cut, called the undercut, at waist level, cutting a third of the way through the tree. Make another cut at a 45 degree angle, meeting the end of the first cut to make a wedge. This cut is made in the direction the tree is intended to fall, says the University of Missouri Extension.

Step 5

Cut at the back of the tree, called the back cut, one or two inches above the hinge point of the first wedge cut. Do not cut directly into the wedge as this will cause the saw to pinch and cause injury.

Step 6

Run in the direction of your planned escape route as the tree falls.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not cut down the tree when there is a lot of wind as this may change the direction the tree falls.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Ladder
  • Lopper
  • Hand saw
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles


  • Cornell University: The Felling Plan
  • Bob Vila: How to Fell a Tree
  • University of Missouri Extension: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees

Who Can Help

  • American Forests: Big Tree Measuring Guide
Keywords: felling a tree, tree cutting, safe tree cutting

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.