How to Fell Ash Trees


Ash trees are large trees that grow fast and spread broadly. As landscape plants, they are very attractive. However, if planted too closely, an ash tree can crowd a home, garage or other structure and may need to be taken down. Ash wood is also very good for carving. Whatever the reason for felling an ash tree, knowing what you are doing is important for your safety and the safety of others in the area and your property.

Step 1

Start the chain saw and make a 45-degree downward cut 1/3 of the way into the side of the trunk that faces the direction in which the ash tree should fall. Make a 45-degree upward cut on the same side, meeting the end of the first cut, to remove a wedge of wood from the trunk. This cut is referred to as the under cut. This relatively new method of notching, using two 45-degree angles, prevents the faces of the undercut from meeting until the tree is near or on the ground, allowing for greater control as the tree falls.

Step 2

Stand to the side of the tree. On the opposite side of the trunk, make a horizontal cut, called the back cut, that is slightly above the undercut. Drive wooden or plastic wedges into the back cut on larger trees to encourage them to begin falling in the right direction and to help to prevent the tree from leaning back on the saw and binding the blade.

Step 3

Continue the back cut until the tree begins to fall. Do not cut past the undercut, but leave an inch or two as a hinge that will keep the tree connected to the stump. This is a safety precaution that will prevent the butt of the tree from slipping loose and will help guide the tree as it falls.

Step 4

Shout a warning, such as "Timber!", as the tree begins to fall, checking to make sure others are safely away. Turn off the chainsaw and step carefully, but quickly, away from the tree along your escape route, always facing the tree as you retreat.

Step 5

Free the butt of the ash tree from the stump with the chain saw, once the tree is completely at rest on the ground. Use a pair of loppers to cut off any smaller branches along the trunk and limbs. As you work, remove the cut branches and foliage to keep the area clear.

Step 6

Use the chain saw or a hand saw to remove any larger limbs. If a limb is holding the tree up, first make a vertical cut on the underside of the limb to prevent the saw blade from binding. Finish the cut from the top, being careful to watch for any movement of the tree. Cut any hanging limbs with a top down cut. Continue to remove limb sections, as you work on the tree, to keep the area clear.

Step 7

Cut the remainder the tree into manageable lengths by placing the trunk on a log or other support and cutting from the top down, allowing the hanging end of the trunk to fall away from the cut.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid felling ash trees toward a house, power or phone line, or other structure. Know your limits. Felling large trees requires considerable skill and great caution. An improperly felled tree can cause injury or death and severe damage property. If you are not completely confident of what you are doing, contact a professional tree removal service to perform the task for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain saw
  • Hand saw
  • Loppers
  • Leather gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Face shield or goggles


  • How to Fell a Tree
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Safe Chainsaw Operation
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Extension: Chain Saw Safety Tips
Keywords: chain saw ash tree, fell ash tree safely, cut down tree

About this Author

In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with almost a decade of experience as a Navy Hospital Corpsman and licensed paramedic and more than 15 years writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that include medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.