Safely Felling a Tree

When hiring a certified arborist, remember that safety is always the first priority! Felling trees is risky business, and performing a limbing or removal job without respecting proper tree care safety protocols can presents serious liabilities to you, your family, and your home. As outlined in our article, What Is An Arborist?, arborists are highly trained and receive their credentials from the International Society of Arboriculture. “Tree surgeons” as they are also referred to, are also required to keep their certifications up-to-date with the latest safety procedures and industry development.

While, the following article discusses expert practices for felling a tree, this is not an invitation to try this at home. This article is for educational purposes only, and will ultimately help you to stay informed when making the decision regarding who to hire for your tree service!

Survey The Area

First and foremost, a tree expert will want to survey the area for any obstacles of obstructions that are within a radius equal to the height of the tree. These obstructions may include other trees, power lines, people, and pets. In addition to estimating the felling zone, it is also common practice to plan out a 45 degree angle escape path that is opposite of the direction that the tree will fall.

The tree felling zone can often be estimated without using fancy trigonometry. By holding an ax handle at arm’s length and keeping one eye closed, you can align the tree’s top and bottom to be even with the top and bottom of the ax as you move towards and away from the tree. Once you have found this sweet spot, the tree top should land right around your feet. Of course, adding a couple meters or more helps you to provide a safety buffer!

A professional arborist will always be equipped with the right safety equipment to do the job. This will include a helmet to protect from falling debris, ear protection to protect from high decibel noises (the chainsaw, and the tree felling itself), safety glasses to prevent woods chips and dust from entering the eyes, and kevlar chaps which contain protective material that can stop a chainsaw instantly from seriously injuring the arborist!

Tree service professional limbing a tree
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Felling Procedure

Before beginning to cut down the tree, an arborist will clear any loose debris or branches around the tree before starting the job. Now everything should be prepped to start the process! While there are various different methods to fell a tree, we are going to describe here one of the most common procedures. Keep in mind that best practice is to have a work assistant as a look-out person that has their eyes on the tree during the entire process.

Initially, the tree is marked where the cut will be made at a comfortable height using chalk, or my lightly scoring the tree with the chainsaw. First, with the tree to the left, a 70 degree cut is made on the side facing the direction that you want the tree to fall (known as the “fall side”), about a quarter deep into the diameter of the tree. (Note: Many chainsaws will have a sight on the equipment for this purpose). Next, a second horizontal cut is made to meet the bottom of the first cut, resulting in a triangular notch being cut from the tree trunk.

The third cut is referred to as the “felling cut”. This cut is made from the opposite side slightly above the previous horizontal cut. The cut is made about 1/4 to 1/2 into the diameter of the tree until the arborist is able to insert a wedge into the cut. Then with the wedge still inserted, the cut is finished while steal leaving about 10 percent as a hinge point. As the tree begins to fall, the tree specialist will immediately remove the chainsaw, engage the chain brake, and run in the direction of their escape path.

With the tree on the ground, the limbs can now be safely removed, and the tree trunk itself can be cut down into larger sections to be hauled off, or turned into mulch or firewood!

Contact Us Today To Get The Job Done Right!

Looking to have a tree felled on your property and don’t know who to contact? At Urban Forestry Tree Service, we connect you with a network of licensed and insured tree care specialists, which helps you to take out all of the guess work. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction, and putting safety first. Contact us today to schedule a free quote, and we’ll get back to you ASAP. We look forward to working with you!

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