Magnolia Tree Removal

Overview

Magnolia trees are most commonly thought of as a Southern tree, although some varieties, such as star and merrill, are hardy to zone 4. These large, stately trees are pest-resistant and have showy flowers. When a magnolia tree dies, you'll need to remove it. The bark of magnolia trees is thin and cuts easily, but the root system is deep, rope-like and tangled. It extends more than four times the width of the canopy under the soil surface, making removal difficult. Tackle young trees smaller than 25 feet high yourself, but hire a professional for larger trees.

Cutting Down the Magnolia Tree

Step 1

Remove all objects out of the magolia tree's path and determine the way you want it to fall. If the tree is leaning to one side, allow it to naturally fall to that side if possible. Trees smaller than 10 feet in height fall easily in the direction you push them.

Step 2

Clear an escape route for you at a 45-degree angle from the direction of the falling tree. Never exit directly behind the falling tree, as the tree can kick back, causing injury.

Step 3

Make a cut with your chainsaw on the fall side of the trunk (the direction the tree will fall). Cut the trunk at knee level. Cut at a 45-degree angle no more than a third of the way into the tree trunk. Make a horizontal cut 3 inches below the previous cut so it meets the first cut, creating a point.

Step 4

Make another horizontal cut straight through the trunk to meet the point you made on the opposite side. As you cut, the tree will begin to lean. Have a partner alert you when the tree is about to fall so you can move out of the way. Turn off the chainsaw and smoothly move out of the way. Never turn your back on a falling tree.

Step 5

Cut off the magnolia tree's branches using your loppers, and cut up the trunk for removal.

Removing the Stump

Step 1

Rent a stump grinder at a hardware store or home store.

Step 2

Move the stump grinder close to the stump before operating. Turn the ignition button to start the grinder. Move the handle up so the grinding wheel is in contact with the stump.

Step 3

Slowly move the grinding wheel in a back-and-forth motion across the stump. With each pass, the grinder will remove 1/2 inch of the stump. Move the grinder forward and raise the handle to lower the grinder as the stump is ground. Grind the stump at least 12 inches below the soil surface.

Step 4

Remove the mulch from the hole. Brush tricopyr on any remaining visible roots to kill them. Backfill the hole left by the grinder with new soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Felling trees and grinding stumps is dangerous work. Wear safety goggles, good boots and protective clothing. Always work with a partner and keep a cell phone with you. Stump grinders throw mulch and debris as far a 10 feet. Instruct bystanders to stand well away. Don't rent grinders that have the grinding wheel under the handlebar. These are too dangerous.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw Lopper Stump grinder Tricopyr

References

  • The National Arboreteum: Magnolia Questions and Answers
  • US Forest Service: Southern Magnolia
  • University of Minnesota Extension Service: Removing Trees and Shrubs
  • Bob Vila: How to Fell a Tree

Who Can Help

  • Southern Living: Magnolia Essential Southern Plant
  • University of Minnesota Extension Office: Magnolias for Minnesota
Keywords: removing magnolia tree, stump removal, cutting magnolia tree

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.