How to Cut Down a Large Tree

Hiring someone to come and cut down a tree in your backyard can be an expensive exercise. So why not do it yourself? Although it may seem like a massive task at first, if you take the necessary safety precautions and carefully read this guide, you’ll be able to cut down any tree on your property with ease. Check out iseekplant’s comprehensive guide on how to cut down a tree below!


What tools do I need to cut down a tree?

To safely and successfully cut down a large tree, you’ll need a range of tools. Some of the most important things you’ll need when you’re cutting down a tree include:

Step one - Site safety above everything else.

man cutting down large tree with chainsaw wearing safety gear

As with any construction site, it’s important to prepare the area prior to work commencing, or you may end up like this guy:


Make sure you distinguish the area you’re working in. Use rope or some cones to do this. Be sure to tell anyone around the site that you’ll be working with dangerous machinery, and that they shouldn’t come up to you while you’re operating. Advise them that branches may be falling while you’re cutting down the tree, too.

Make sure you’re decked out in the right safety gear. This includes earplugs, protective glasses, full-length shirts that won’t sag, pants and a jacket if you’re high up on a cherry picker. A hard hat, gloves and dust mask should be worn at all times when machines are in operation.


Step two - Remove branches from the tree


Here’s where you’re going to need that cherry picker you’ve hired. The second step in cutting down a tree involves removing all of the branches with a small chainsaw. First, position your cherry picker underneath the tree so you can safely ascend and still reach out to cut branches off. Always ensure your cherry picker is parked on solid, level ground.

Then, test your chainsaw while you’re on the ground - fiddling around with a chainsaw at heights is a recipe for disaster. Once you’re in the cherry picker cage, hook your harness onto the frame prior to elevating the machine. Use the control panel to safely position yourself under branches so you can safely make clean cuts.

Let the branches fall to the ground, and always keep an eye on the surrounding area. Cherry pickers will move very slowly, so the chances of you losing control are very low if you’re paying attention. Continually remove branches with the small chainsaw as you move up the tree.

Once you’ve removed as many branches as you can with the chainsaw, go back to level ground and swap it out for the pole pruner. This item will give you a higher reach at the top of the tree and is great for removing those pesky smaller branches. The fewer branches you have on the tree, the less impact it will have once it hits the deck.


Step three - Cut down the trunk


After you’ve stripped the tree of branches, you’ll need to cut the trunk so the whole thing falls down. If you’re operating in a space that is restricted, you can cut the tree into smaller parts, starting up the top with the large chainsaw. Slowly move down the tree and continue to cut areas off the trunk until you reach the base.

If space isn’t an issue, make a wedge cut in the trunk. The tree is going to fall in the direction of the wedge cut after you make a second hinge cut directly behind it.  Once you’ve lopped the tree down, cut it into squares, smaller pieces with the large chainsaw so that you’re able to split the wood. For the most accurate cut, saw through 80% of the wood, then flip the log over and cut through the remaining 20%. Practice makes perfect on this one!


Step four - Use a wood chipper


After you’ve cut down the tree you’ll be left with a decent amount of branches that you need to dispose of. Wood chippers are going to be your best bet here, as they can turn these branches into mulch for your garden! Check out iseekplant’s guide on how to use a wood chipper here.


Step five - Use a log splitter.


For the larger parts of the trunk that you’ve cut down, you’ll need to use a log splitter. Log splitters make these large chunks easier to deal with by breaking them in half. First, use the lift mechanism to load the square pieces of the trunk into the log splitter. Position the logs under the hydraulic blade and pay attention as they easily split apart.

You can repeat this process until the wood you’re left with is a manageable size. This powerful machine needs to be operated by someone with confidence and experience - your log splitter supplier will give you reliable advice on how to use this. Subscribe to iseekplant’s Constructionsht blog today and keep up to date with the latest industry, project and DIY information!