How to Remove Trees


Once a tree declines in health to the point that it cannot recover, the only option is to remove it. Trees that have been damaged by storms, insects, unseasonable cold or overzealous pruning are likely candidates for removal. Because removing trees is a potentially dangerous undertaking, it should be carried out in a deliberate process.

Step 1

Examine a tree to determine if it leans or has more growth in any particular side. These factors may determine the direction a tree will fall in. Wherever possible, attempt to drop a tree in that direction.

Step 2

Look over the drop zone and remove any obstacles such as parked cars that may become damaged when the tree falls.

Step 3

Plot out an escape route. Once the tree begins to fall, this is how you will get safely away. Remove any debris that could trip you as you retreat. Make sure you will be far enough away from the tree that you cannot be hit by falling branches and other debris, called widowmakers.

Step 4

Make a wedge-shaped cut, known as a back cut, on the tree near the base. The cut should extend one-third of the way through the tree.

Step 5

Make a second cut slightly higher than the point of the back cut on the opposite side. This cut should extend two-thirds of the way through the tree trunk. The tree will begin to tilt and fall in the direction of the back cut. Move away from the falling tree until all the debris has settled.

Step 6

Cut the tree into sections by first removing limbs and then cutting the trunk into sections. Stand uphill from the tree to avoid being crushed should it shift and roll. Always stand across the trunk from the limb being removed to protect yourself from saw kickback. Cut the limbs flush with the trunk so that the trunk may be easily rolled. Never stand on fallen limbs. They can easily be pulled from beneath your feet if the tree rolls.

Step 7

Cut the trunk in sections by slicing straight through from the top to the bottom if the trunk rests on solid ground. If the trunk is on uneven ground, cut through 1/3 of the trunk from the bottom to the top first. Then cut through 2/3 of the trunk from the top of the trunk to the bottom cut to prevent binding the blade.

Step 8

Make a series of deep vertical cuts through the stump, then cover it with sod and water it well. Keep the sod-covered stump damp to promote rotting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attempt to use a chain saw to cut any surface above chest height. Doing so can cause you to lose control of the saw.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain saw


  • University of Missouri Extension: Felling, Limbing and Bucking Trees
  • LSU Ag Center: Stump Removal
  • N.C. State University: Trees: Damage

Who Can Help

  • University of Missouri Extension: Basic Chain Saw Safety and Use
Keywords: tree removal, cutting down trees, felling a tree, removing 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."