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Magnolia Tree Removal

By Julie Christensen ; Updated September 21, 2017
Magnolia trees produce large, showy blossoms.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Removing the Stump

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

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.

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.

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.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Lopper
  • Stump grinder
  • Tricopyr

Tips

  • Re-apply tricopyr to emerging suckers. Killing the entire root system of a magnolia tree may take several years.
  • Research the cost of renting a stump grinder as opposed to hiring a professional to grind the stump for you. Sometimes it's more cost-effective (and safer) to hire the professional.

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.

About the Author

 

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."