What Goes into Tree Cutting?

When you see a tree cutting project in your yard, you may wonder what level of work it will take for a tree service company to cut down the tree. Here’s what you can expect when you have an arborist fell a tree in your yard.

  1. Mobilize Equipment and Crew

Expert arborists take safety very seriously, and all jobs begin with proper safety equipment. Climbers wear leg coverings (often Kevlar-style), a hard hat, steel toe boots, gloves, glasses, and ear protection. Climbers wear harnesses that enable them to safely ascend and descend from trees. The crew also has a first aid kid onboard along with working cell phones in the event of an emergency.

Additional equipment the crew brings to the site includes a variety of chainsaws, ladders, ropes, axes, rakes, tarps, leaf-blower, pruners, wedges, crane, stump grinder, chipper, pickup trucks, and a logging truck.

  1. Tree Assessment

The crew leader will assess the tree to review the tools, technique, and safety elements in the project and answer the following questions:

  • Is there an existing lean in the tree?
  • Are there any dead or broken branches?
  • Where will the tree fall?
  • Are there obstructions nearby, including branches from other trees or personal property?
  • Are there any safety concerns about the site? Are people and pets secured in a safe area?
  • Where can equipment be safely parked?
  • If things go awry when the tree falls, what is the escape route?
  1. Make the Cut

A variety of techniques and practices are available to arborists to ensure a tree is taken down safely. The technique greatly depends on the site conditions, type, and size of the tree to be felled. Once there is a plan in place to cut the tree, the crew will begin to do their individual jobs to taking the tree down.

In some cases, where there are adjacent homes, hazards, or personal property nearby, a climber will ascend the tree and work with a crane to remove one branch and section of the tree at a time.

If there are no hazards around, the crew can fell the tree at one time without significant branch removal.

Basic steps for tree cutting include:

  • Determine the drop zone. This is where the tree will fall based on its natural positioning. Ideally, this would be a flat spot where the tree would be unlikely to roll or bounce or cause additional damage or increased risks.
  • Make Horizontal Cut. The first cut will occur at about the height of an adult male’s knee. Often a tree felling wedge is placed in the cut to prevent it from leaning back. It will cut approximately ¼th to 1/3rd of the radius of the tree. This cut will occur on the opposite side of the intended drop zone.
  • Make Notch Cut – this slice will occur on the drop zone side of the tree. This is known as the felling hinge, and it tells the tree which way to fall. Occasionally this is the first cut to occur, depending on the deciding technique of the arborist.
  • Make Back Cut. These occur in the existing horizontal cut in the backside of the tree until it falls. More or less back-cutting is needed depending on the thickness of the tree.
  • Hammer Wedges. If the tree hasn’t begun to fall yet, the arborist may use a sledgehammer to drive the wedges further into the tree until it falls.
  • Tree falls. As the tree begins to fall the crew stands clear at a safe distance away from the drop zone.
  1. Chip Branches and Remove Logs

Once the tree is down, the crew cuts the branches off and puts them into a chipper. The trunk is lifted with the crane and placed on a logging truck to be hauled offsite if the homeowner doesn’t want it for firewood.

  1. Stump Grinding

To remove the stump of the tree, a stump grinder is brought in to take the trunk down to ground level. It is preferable in most yards to have the stump ground down to avoid an eyesore or mowing issues. For homeowners, once the stump is ground, topsoil can be used to get grass growing over the area. Some pH treatment may be needed to support healthy grass growth since the area is likely depleted of nitrogen from the tree roots.

  1. Site Clean-up

After this last step occurs all the wood chips, sawdust, twigs, and any remaining branches are removed from the yard with rakes and blowers so the site is restored completely.


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What Goes into Tree Cutting?