Cutting down a tree is a risky undertaking at the best of times, as the process must be carefully controlled in order to minimize the chances of damaging nearby property or injuring someone. If that tree is leaning toward a house or other building, the difficulty increases exponentially, as the tree naturally wants to fall toward that building. This means you’ll have to find a way to redirect its fall so that it doesn’t hit the house: no easy task.
Fortunately, arborists and other professional tree service workers have developed methods for how to cut down a tree leaning toward a house without putting the building in any unnecessary danger. In this article, we’ll discuss the process and help advise you about important considerations such as safety and when it’s best to leave the job to the professionals.
Start By Assessing the Situation
Before beginning any job involving trees, you should make sure you are fully aware of all the variables in play. In this case, you have a tree that’s leaning toward a building, but is that all? Are there any power lines that are in the way of the task? How large of a tree is it? Is there anything else between the tree and the house? Does the tree appear to be in imminent danger of collapsing? Take notes, writing down anything and everything you think might affect the outcome of your task.
Spend some time thinking about what equipment you’ll need to secure for the job. You may have some of it on hand, but other pieces of equipment, such as stump grinders, are more specialized and may not be sitting in your garage. Read this article a few times to get an idea of the equipment that is needed for the job and consider what you will need to buy or rent.
You’ll also need to make any legal considerations at this point. In many cases, you’ll need a permit to remove a tree, even one that is already on your property. Do some research to discover what the laws are in your area. If you live in Portland, this page is a good place to get started. The last thing you want is to get hit with a fine when you are simply trying to remove a problem tree from your property.
Make a Plan
You should always have a detailed plan in place before cutting down any tree. Since you don’t want the tree to fall toward the house, you’ll need to know exactly where it can safely fall. You should also have escape routes in place for the people cutting down the tree to get away. Needless to say, you don’t want to be anywhere near it when it goes down.
The planning stage is also when you will want to secure any necessary permits and talk to your neighbors about what you are planning. You’ll want to warn everyone who might be in the area what will be happening, ensuring that they’ll avoid being nearby when you are doing dangerous work.
Next, you should schedule rentals for any large equipment you may need and purchase anything else that you cannot rent. Finally, it’s a good idea to get at least one other person to assist you with the task and to serve as a lookout. Ask the person or persons who will be helping you and make a detailed schedule for them so they know where to be and when.
Don’t Forget Safety
Safety is always the most important consideration when performing an undertaking on the scale of tree removal. This means it’s critical to have the right safety equipment on hand: closed-toe shoes, long pants and sleeves, and heavy-duty gloves are a must. Eye protection is also critical, as well as hearing protection if you are planning to use a chainsaw or other heavy power tool to get the job done. A hard hat is also a good idea, as well as fall protection if you’ll need to climb into the tree to prune it ahead of time.
Establishing the Fall
If a tree is leaning in a different direction than its intended fall, this is known as “back lean.” The back lean must be overcome in order to fell the tree where you want it to go. This can be done using wedges, shims, and occasionally, ropes.
The first step in how to cut down a tree leaning toward the house is to make a notch cut on the side you wish the tree to fall in. This cut should have a V-shape, starting with a cut at a 45-degree angle about a quarter of the way into the trunk. A second cut will move in the opposite direction, creating the V-shape that will help to guide the tree downward in the direction you want it to go.
On the opposite side of the V cut, you’ll cut in a straight line through the trunk, which will finally allow the tree to fall as it releases the tension created by the V cut. Once you’ve made that cut, you should quickly move away along your designated escape route, allowing the tree to fall in the direction you have planned.
In some cases, simple cuts may not be enough to cause a tree to fall in the direction you wish it to. In this case, you might be able to use ropes to guide it the correct way. These ropes can serve as an anchor, helping to pull the tree in the direction that you want. Needless to say, you won’t hold these ropes in your hand, instead, tie them down to an anchor point far away from anyone working on the job.
If You Need Help
In some cases, you may decide it’s best to seek help from a professional arborist to get the job done. It’s not worth risking your safety—or the safety of your home—in the process of cutting down a tree, so if you’re uncertain about performing the task, contact the experts at Mr. Tree. With years of experience in tree removal, we will be able to get the job done for you in a safe and effective manner.