Put on safety equipment like eye protection and gloves. Use boots to protect your feet. If you are going to be cutting down a large tree, it might be best to use steel-toed boots.
Remove things that could get in the way or be damaged. These might include children's toys, cars and fencing. Removing a section of fence isn't a must, but if you are not using a tree-removal professional, it might be a good idea.
Look to see if the tree is already leaning a certain direction. If so, that is the way you want it to fall. It will make it easier. If a house or other immovable structure prevents this, then obviously do not plan to cut it to fall in this direction. Pick the way you want the tree to fall if the obvious direction won't work.
Locate the area you will go to while the tree is falling. Pick an area on both sides of the tree, out of the path of the fall. It's a good idea to put something in these two locations that will catch your eye and lead you there in case of an emergency. This way confusion and being rushed will not keep you from your safety area.
Use a tree trimmer to cut out as many smaller branches as you can and remove them from the area. Reach as high as you can from the ground and then use a ladder to reach up into the tree. Loppers are also used for thin branches.
Cut out larger branches one at a time with a chainsaw. Cut as many as you can reach. Tie a rope around the branch before it is cut and toss the rope over another branch. Let the rope fall to the ground so that you can lower the cut limb to the ground. Have someone at the base of the tree take the rope to lower the branch after it is cut. For taller trees, it is best to use a professional tree removal service or just let the tree fall with all limbs intact. The purpose of trimming them before you fell the tree is to prevent damage to structures nearby. It is a must if you are dealing with a small yard surrounded by homes. If it is a very small tree, this is not a concern, and the entire tree can be cut down with a hand saw.
Cut out the top of the tree first if you can reach about halfway up. Use a chainsaw. This is only a must if there isn't room for the entire length of the tree to fall. Tie rope around the section that is going to be cut, and with the same rope, tie some of the remaining length around the tree below where you will be cutting. When the tree section falls it will be stopped from hitting the ground by the attached rope. For the tree, cut a wedge about 1/4 of the way into the tree on the side that you want the tree section to fall.
Cut into the tree on the opposite side of the wedge. Make the cut 2 or 3 inches above the wedge. Saw straight and horizontally. Cut in about one-quarter of the way. If the tree doesn't start to fall on its own before you are done with your second cut, give it a push in the direction of the wedge. Make sure everyone is out of the way before you start. Once the section falls, lower the section by undoing the rope.
Cut the base of the tree in the same manner as the top half, if you cut the top half out first. Move to your safety spot to avoid being hurt.
Cut out small limbs and then larger branches if you weren't able to do it while the tree was standing. Cut them into manageable size pieces and stack them to the side.
Cut halfway through the main trunk log. Space the cuts so the pieces will be manageable.
Roll the log over and cut through to meet the first cuts you did on the other side. Use an ax and wedge to finish cutting the round log pieces if they are still too big.