How to Remove Oak Trees


Oak trees are long-lived trees with a habit of growing tall and wide. For this reason, oaks are often planted on property to become shade trees for existing homes. Some prospective homeowners will also purchase wooded lots in the hopes of building a house that is nestled among shade trees. As time passes, an oak tree's health can decline from roots compacted by construction, grade changes around the roots of trees or even disease and fungus problems. The tree may eventually die, necessitating the removal of the tree.

Step 1

Examine the oak tree to determine which way it will fall. Oaks that grow asymmetrically or lean may fall in the direction that has the most canopy development.

Step 2

Explore the area around an oak tree to remove any obstacles, such as automobiles, that the tree may fall onto and crush. If the oak is near a home or power lines, have a professional remove the tree.

Step 3

Plan out an escape route that you can use to move away from the oak as it falls. Oak trees may bounce in unpredictable ways or may leave branches and debris behind that can fall after a delayed period of time and cause injury. Remove any sticks, roots or rocks that could trip you as you move away from the falling tree.

Step 4

Cut a wedge-shaped notch in the tree near the bottom of the trunk. This wedge-shaped notch should open at a 45-degree angle in the direction that you want the tree to fall and should extend 1/3 of the way through the tree.

Step 5

Make a second cut through the trunk of the tree on the opposite side of the notch. This second cut should be located slightly higher than the point of the notch in the tree's trunk and should extend 2/3 of the way through the tree. The uncut wood between the two slices will act as a pivot point for the falling tree.

Step 6

Step away from the tree and move up the escape route as the tree begins to tilt and fall. Wait to return to the oak tree until all debris has settled.

Step 7

Look over the fallen tree to ensure that there are no bent or trapped branches or nearby trapped saplings that can snap back and cause injury. Cut any trapped branches or saplings at the midpoint of their bend to release them without causing injury.

Step 8

Stand on the opposite side of the trunk from a limb that you want to remove. Cut limbs flush with the trunk of an oak to facilitate easy removal of the trunk. Never stand downhill of an oak. The oak could roll onto you.

Step 9

Cut an oak trunk flat by making one single cut with a chainsaw through the oak. Make two cuts on a log suspended in the air. The first cut should extend from the bottom of the log 1/3 of the way through the tree. The second cut should start at the top of the log and meet the second cut 2/3 of the way through the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain saw


  • Texas A&M University Extension: Live Oak Tree Problems and Solutions
  • Iowa State University Extension: Diagnosing Tree Problems
  • University of Missouri Extension: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees

Who Can Help

  • NC State University Extension: Trees--Damage
Keywords: cutting down trees, oak tree removal, limbing a tree

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."