Tree & Brush Removal


One of the most labor intensive projects that you must undertake when clearing property for construction or for planting a garden is removal of trees and brush. Although you should call a professional to remove a large tree in an area near homes or power lines, you can easily remove smaller trees and brush yourself.

Step 1

Measure the diameter of the trunk of the tree or bush that you choose to remove with a pair of stem calipers. The size of the tree or bush will determine the best method for removing the plants from your property.

Step 2

Mow down trees or brush with a stem diameter less than one-half inch with a lawnmower or brush mowing attachment for a yard tractor. Repeated mowing will kill young trees and brush.

Step 3

Clip down trees and brush near the soil line with branch loppers if the stem diameter is less than 1½ inches. Spray the exposed trunk with a systemic herbicide containing glyphosate to kill the roots and prevent the brush from returning in your property. Many commercial pre-mixed herbicides are sold in spray bottles for ease of application.

Step 4

Cut down a larger tree or shrub with an ax or chainsaw. Make a V-shaped notch near the base of the trunk that opens in the direction that you want the trunk to fall. The notch should open at a 45 degree angle and should extend one-third of the way through the tree. This notch is called an undercut.

Step 5

Make a back cut on the other side of the tree or shrub trunk just above the point of the notch in the tree. The back cut should extend two-thirds of the way through the tree. Step away from the tree as it falls to avoid being struck by falling debris.

Step 6

Section the tree or bush in pieces for easy removal by cutting each limb along the point where it meets the trunk. Carry away each limb individually. If the trunk rests on even ground, cut straight through the trunk from the top to the bottom. If the trunk rests on uneven ground, cut through the lower one-third of the trunk from the underside. Then finish the cut by slicing through the tree or bush from the top to meet the undercut. Carry away the trunk sections individually.

Step 7

Spray the stump that is left behind with systemic herbicide to kill the tree or shrub's roots. Cut grooves into the stump to speed up the rotting process.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective clothing when using heavy equipment or herbicides. These include close-toed shoes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, leather work gloves, safety goggles and breathing protection. Shower immediately after using systemic herbicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Stem calipers
  • Lawn mower
  • Lawn tractor
  • Brush mower attachment
  • Branch loppers
  • Systemic herbicide spray
  • Chain saw
  • Ax


  • University of Missori Extension: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Removing Trees and Shrubs
  • Mississippi State University Extension: Chain Saw Safety: Tree Felling

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University Extension:Rotary Lawn and Brush Mower Safety for Trainers and Supervisors
Keywords: Removing shrubs, tree removal, clearing land

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."