Chain Saw Massacre on Your Tree
It seems that the best place to extend your home out into the yard always has a big set back, it is either a drain or a tree, and neither one is easy to deal with. Trees do add value to a property, so ask yourself if it really has to go.
Ensure that there is no other way that your addition could be achieved. For this you may need to have a party and ask all your friends over. Any excuse for a party? Not exactly, but you will have this new extension plan firmly rooted in your mind and you cannot think of an alternative, but other people will have fresh viewpoints.
If there is no alternative other than to go ahead with your addition and your problem is a tree, the best advice is to hire a professional tree-feller. Failing that, you must have insurance (both for yourself, the house and your neighbor’s), you should be proficient with a chain saw or a pole saw, and hopefully you can persuade a strong friend to come over and help!
Usually the tree is near enough to the home to cause damage to it. Of course, Murphy’s Law! For this reason it is advisable to remove all branches first, and then deal with the tree trunk when the tree is a manageable size.
Climb up the tree and decide in which order you will start to eliminate branches. This is often decided for you by the growth of the tree; although you would plan to take down the smaller branches first.
Your safety precautions would include clearing a large space around the tree, no children in sight and wearing eye goggles and a hard hat. Another safety rule with tree cutting and chain saws or pole saws is never to work with the chain saw higher than your waist line. Some people like to use a rope to ‘tie themselves’ onto the tree trunk. as wielding a chain saw in a small space can make you lose your balance.
Once you have finished with the smaller branches and you are ready to move onto the bigger branches, you can choose from two options. The first is to tie a rope around each branch before you cut it, to ‘assist’ and guide its fall (you can loop the rope around a higher branch for more control).
The second method is to cut the large branches off in smaller manageable chunks; this method will take longer but you may feel more in control of the situation! Before you come down from the tree, leave two large ropes hanging from the tree trunk in case you and your helper need to ‘steer’ the tree as it falls.
Trees can be deceivingly tall. It is not advisable to guess that you have enough length in your own back garden to fell this tree and then watch it crash through the neighbor’s fence and swimming pool. Actually use a tape measure to calculate your tree’s pathway. This will also be helpful in deciding exactly where and in which direction you want the tree to fall.
Once this is decided, cut out a horizontally shaped notch (like >) from the trunk. It will be facing the direction of the pathway the tree will fall along. (The horizontal > notch is made by cutting one straight line halfway into the trunk and then cut another line six inches above the first at a forty-five degree angle to join into the straight line. You only want the notch to cut into about half the width of the tree trunk. Once the two cuts meet the wedge of wood will drop out.)
At the same level, make a slit halfway through the trunk on the other side, and stand-by with your ropes. It is better not to use the ropes except for an emergency, in case one of you pulls more strongly than the other.
After a thunderous crash and an adrenaline rush – all that you are left with is the trunk! You can rent a stump grinder to get rid of this, or splash out and hire a professional to do the job while you take an axe to the above-ground roots.
There is no short cut method to the clean-up; it will probably take longer than the tree cutting job!