Common DIY Tree Removal Mistakes You Should Avoid

If you have a tree in your yard that you would like to get rid of, you may think it is as simple as chopping it down and pulling out the stump. However, some simple mistakes could lead to injury and damage to equipment and other trees. If you're attempting to remove a tree yourself, here is a guide to some of the most common mistakes people make and how you can avoid them.

1. Operating a chainsaw incorrectly

A chainsaw doesn't seem to be a very complicated piece of equipment-- you simply position the saw and begin cutting, right? Wrong. There are over 28,000 chainsaw injuries annually in the United States alone, most of which are caused by improper operation. When you go to cut down a tree in your yard, you should be sure to prepare for kickback. The rotating blades of the chainsaw will spin freely when you are simply holding the saw in midair. However, when the saw touches wood, the saw naturally will "kick back" at the change in friction. The momentum of the moving chain can send the entire saw spinning back toward the operator, which results in injury. Bracing the saw properly with two hands and preparing for the change in momentum helps to prevent this problem. Also, it's important to brake the chain between cuts, as holding a freely spinning saw is how you can end up cutting yourself and others. 

2. Cutting the tree so that it falls in the wrong direction

Trees will generally fall away from the cut direction on a "hinge" that you create when sawing. However, if you saw from one direction and do not provide an adequate felling hinge, the tree will fall in whatever direction gravity dictates, which could lead to house damage, tree damage, or injury if a tree falls on a person. It's best to cut the tree with a directional notch that is no deeper than 15-20 percent of the trees diameter. Then, it's best to cut the tree toward the directional notch, leaving about 10 percent of the diameter to create a felling hinge. 

3. Removing stumps without the right machinery

Many people, after removing the tree from the yard, attempt to remove the stump by simply wrapping it with a chain or cable and pulling it out with a pickup truck. However, root systems of trees are extraordinarily complex, and, like an iceberg, you never know just how much stump lies beneath the surface. You are more likely to damage the bumper or axle of your truck or to make the stump more difficult to remove as the cable and chain remove a portion of the growth without removing it all. In the case of stump removal, it is best to call a professional to dig it out, or to use products that slowly kill the stump, making it easier to remove in the future.

4. Removing one tree that is close to other trees

Professional tree removal is often needed for yards that have more than one tree -- especially if you wish remaining trees to stay healthy. Felling a tree and pulling a stump that is closely connected to other trees can snap branches and upset root systems, both of which will open the tree up to infection from fungus and disease. Roots that are intermingled are especially vulnerable to breaking. You may end up needing to remove more trees in the future just because the one tree you did take out yourself caused so much damage. 

Tree removal is trickier business than you may think -- both with machinery and with execution. If you are not comfortable with DIY solutions, contact a professional service in your area. Click here for info on the services these businesses can often provide.