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Not-To-Do List: 20 Things to Avoid When Cutting Down a Tree

Written by Willie F Brodson

Whether it obstructs your view, has damage, or is dead, removing a tree should never be taken lightly. If not completed properly, this project can result in serious consequences, such as damaging your home and its surroundings or seriously injuring you and others around you. You may also need a permit in some areas in order to cut a tree down, even in your backyard.

There are a few things you shouldn’t do when it comes to chopping trees down. Here we’ve explained them in detail!

21 Things to Avoid When Cutting a Tree Down

1. Do not forget to check the tree’s diameter

When the tree’s diameter is twice the length of your saw bar or more, stop there. You need a different cutting method that should be left to the professionals.

Do not forget to check the tree's diameter

2. Do not end up topping the tree

Watersports are typically formed when a tree is topped. A mass of thin, spindly branches sprout at the ends and along the sides throughout the branches. As a result of losing its main structural branch, the tree reacts in this way. It makes the tree look awful.

Do not end up topping the tree

3. Don’t get too close to the power lines and structures

If you have trees that are close to powerlines, they can cause power surges, fires, and blackouts if parts of the tree fall on them. If you have trees near powerlines, do not attempt to cut them yourself. Instead, contact your local council or environmental handler for advice.

Don't get too close to the power lines and structures

4. Cutting down rotten trees is never a good idea

The pros should handle rotten trees. When a tree’s heart has rotted away, it can be extremely difficult to predict felling direction. The tree probably has a lot of dead limbs above it that might fall on your head when you’re cutting it

Cutting down rotten trees is never a good idea

5. Poor cuts in general

If your tree has been badly pruned, you’ll see many of the pruned cuts: stub, flush, and heading cuts. Pruning without the correct knowledge can be bad for the tree.

Poor cuts in general

6. Do not use dull chainsaws

Use a sharp chainsaw instead, as dull chains waste resources, fuel, and effort. In addition, the process of cutting down a tree with a dull chain saw takes a longer time. So before beginning any job, it’s better to sharpen or replace it.

Do not use dull chainsaws

7. Do not cut trees carelessly

To properly cut down a tree, an analysis of the tree being cut down and its surroundings is essential. For example, trees that grow close to your home or other structures such as fences, garages, or parking lots present a safety risk? Do you have any power lines nearby? Does the tree have any disease, or is there any damage? Do you want the tree to fall in the opposite direction from where it leans? You should call in a professional if you answered yes to any of these questions.

8. Do not do lion tailing

In trees that have visible interior branches, patchy canopies are thin or only have foliage at the ends of the branches. This is lion-tailing. This means the tree was trimmed by someone who was inexperienced. Trained and reputable professionals avoid lion-tailing trees. It causes stress to the tree, creates a tree that will be a hazard, and takes away too much foliage.

Do not do lion tailing

9. Do not forget a lookout

It is impossible to fall a large tree by one person when they are too close to see whether it is falling correctly. You should have a reliable assistant known as a lookout to ensure a safe fall.

Tree fellers should have the lookout standing a few feet behind them. A long stick or pole will keep the lookout at a safe distance.

Do not forget a lookout

10. Avoid inefficient equipment

A significant amount of power is required to cut trees. This means that all equipment should be in excellent condition. You need to maintain your chainsaw properly to use it effectively. Always discard a chainsaw that’s past its prime.

11. Do not let the bark of the tree injure you

It is very serious if you have a tree with bark damage. However, the bark of a tree can be protected from damage during pruning if branches are not dropped through its crown, and pruning is done properly in three steps. This technique for pruning larger branches is used by all trained pruners.

12. Do not forget to check the chain tension

In the case of new chains, the heat from friction makes them stretch easily. If left unattended, chains may loosen and fly away, posing a serious risk to you and those around you.

Do not forget to check the chain tension

13. Do not forget to prune large branches

This means removing large branches above 3 or 4 inches in diameter. The tree may not be able to close wounds properly. For trees with a crown structure and large branches, you should cut back a large diameter branch to the trunk when removing it. A branch collar will then cover the wound.

14. Never lean ladders against trees when cutting.

When cutting trees down, chainsaw injuries are frequently caused by leaning ladders on trees. You should avoid such a situation whenever possible, as the main goal is to remain safe.

Never lean ladders against trees when cutting

15. Never have gas shortage when cutting a tree

When you cut a tree, you should never move the equipment before making sure it has enough gas. You should carry a reserve of fuel in case of an emergency.

16. Don’t forget to check the terrain you’re working in

It will affect the direction of the fall, and you will need to plan a safe escape route. Additionally, you should be aware of any hazards such as buildings, trees, or power lines. To remove them, you should hire a professional worker who has experience in removing trees.

17. Never miss your clasp

You should never remove your hands from the chainsaw grip when it is going. The saw can kick back and cause injury. If the saw kicks back, there’s nothing to stop it. Instead, aim for an encircling grip and wrap your thumbs tightly around the chainsaw handle.

Never miss your clasp

18. Don’t begin cutting if the tree base hasn’t been cleared

Prior to cutting, make sure to clear the area to allow greater mobility and allow you to move away from the tree once it starts falling

19. Avoid feeling in the kick-back zone

Avoid feeling in the kick-back zone

Above the bar’s tip is the kickback zone. As the chain moves, the kick-back zone can be contacted by an object, and a kick-back will occur. The chain brake on modern chainsaws is supposed to prevent the chain from kicking back.

20. Don’t forget to grab a spot that’s safe to stand when a tree falls

If the tree is rotten in the trunk or is hit by a gust of wind, the tree may fall in the wrong direction. If the tree hits the ground, it will bounce, kick backward or roll. You should position yourself just behind a big tree but be a bit off to the side. To remove a tree from a hillside, you must stand uphill.

21. Do not be overconfident

There is no such thing as knowing everything. Learning all you can, as well as preparing for the worst, is essential. The fact is that even professionals will tell you that there’s no guarantee when it comes to felling a tree. It may seem obvious which cuts will lead a tree to fall in a particular direction. Still, sometimes the tree will take a completely different path.

About the author

Willie F Brodson

Certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and a master of Science in Occupational Safety Management from Indiana State University, Willie F Brodson is an occupational safety expert who believes in the age-old saying – “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Willie’s areas of expertise include legal guidelines for health and safety, coding and construction safety, fire prevention and theft, and environmental technology. Over a span of four decades, he has provided safety training and consultation and developed safety manuals for a number of state-owned and private organizations.

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