Whether you are going DIY or hiring a professional for tree removal or tree cutting, it is best to at least know the things you need to remember while engaging in these high-risk activities.
Safety is something that you should always think about. Being proactive is always better than being reactive in situations that involve the safety of your family or surrounding community. Stick with us as we go through the 10 things you shouldn’t do when removing or cutting trees.
The 10 DON’Ts of Tree Cutting
It is highly advised to let professionals handle tree cutting, as they are experienced, has been doing it for decades, and can get the job done quickly and safely. However, some people like to do everything themselves, because they either want to learn new things or enjoy working outside, especially if the time and weather permits. If you are one of them, below are the 10 things you should not do when cutting a tree.
Don’t Cut a Tree Without a Proper Plan
Planning is everything. From the very first task to the last, you should have a sequence of steps planned to avoid accidents or additional hassles, such as having to go look for supplementary equipment and wasting time in the process. Spend some time researching, do your due diligence, and read and watch videos of experts explaining techniques and procedures until you feel confident that you know what to do before proceeding to actions, especially if it is the first time you are committing to such an undertaking.
Never Underestimate the Size of the Tree
This is the most important point because cutting a large tree truly requires much caution and experience. There is no way you can fell a tree that is wider than 16 inches at the base and taller than 12 feet all on your own. Also, if the tree is close to the house or power lines – “stop it, get help”, and call a professional, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t Ignore the Safety Gear
Never cut a tree without proper protection, as injuries are always unexpected and can even be debilitating. Don’t assume that nothing will happen, as no one ever wakes up in the morning and decides: “Today is the day when I am going to get hurt”. Remember, preventing an injury is much cheaper than trying to recover from it.
Therefore, it is imperative to have all the right protective gear, such as goggles (to protect your eyes from flying twigs, wood chips, and scobs), gloves (to protect your hands from cuts, scratches, and punctures) hard hat (to protect your head from falling branches or heavy tree limbs) and arborists shoes or sturdy shoes with a non-slippery sole and hard top to protect you from slip and fall accidents and your toes from accidentally dropped logs or heavy and sharp pieces of equipment. If you have someone assisting you, be sure to provide that person with the same safety gear as well.
Don’t Cut Trees Without Knowing the Local Regulations or Requirements
Not all trees can be cut, even if they are on your property. Some are protected species and others are there to prevent soil erosion, demineralization, and mudslides, or are an essential habitat for endangered animal or plant species. Therefore, if you are not 100% sure if you can cut down a tree that is causing you a nuisance or not, consult with a licensed professional, who can clarify if a tree can be removed entirely or only partially and if any special permit is required.
Don’t Cut a Tree Alone
This one is the second most important point on this list. Cutting a tree down can be a very unpredictable and dangerous task since many things can go south despite all the planning you might have done. Thus, it is best to have someone with you who can watch your back and warn you in time if a tree suddenly starts to fall in your direction or if a large and heavy limb is about to break off and land on your head. Also, if an accident could not be prevented and you got hurt or got jammed by a tree or its part, it is best to have someone who can call 911 right away or help you to get out from underneath the branches or whatever else that might be pressing you down.
Don’t Try to Cut a Rotten Tree
This point should also be in all caps and highlighted in neon red as something you should never ever attempt to do on your own. Rotten trees may look strong on the outside but their trunks are hollowed out on the inside and when you try to cut them down, most likely than not they will suddenly snap at any point on the trunk and the path where they will start to fall is unpredictable. As it was mentioned earlier in this article when a large tree starts to fall, there is nothing you can do to stop it or change its trajectory, thus posing a threat to your safety, the safety of people assisting you as well as potentially causing damage to the property and any other structures nearby. Therefore, if you suspect that your tree might be rotten (the mold is growing all around it and it is unusually infested with bugs and small animals), it is best not to take any chances and call the experts right away.
Don’t Use Dull, Bent, or Malfunctioning Equipment
Dull, bent or malfunctioning equipment not only prolongs the time it takes to get the job done but also poses a real threat to your safety and the health of your trees and plants. Old or bent equipment can snap and break in the middle of the job, sending small metal pieces flying at your face, head, body, and limbs. Dull and rusty saws and axes can cause injury to your hands and feet or damage to your tree, especially if you are not removing it entirely, but cutting a few branches to create more space and allow more light. Rust from the equipment can cause infection and illness of a tree which may lead to its infestation with mold, harmful bacteria, bugs, and other parasites, leading to the death of a tree and possibly infestation of other healthy trees and plants in your yard. Therefore, in order to avoid more hassles later, make sure your cutting equipment is sharp, rust-free, and in good condition before attempting to operate it.
Don’t Cut the Tree if You Don’t Have an Appropriate Ladder
Most accidents and injuries happen when a cut branch or a limb of a tree hits a ladder while falling. Typically, if the ladder is sturdy and safely secured on the ground in a way that it cannot be easily moved or tipped over, falling debris would not cause an issue. However, if the ground underneath a tree does not allow for the proper securement of a ladder, another way to reach the branches to be cut should be found.
The second most common cause of falls during tree cutting is when a ladder is not tall enough for a person to easily reach branches to be cut. In this case, a person is trying to reach for a branch, raising to his tippy toes and extending his arms too far and too high, while holding a hefty piece of equipment. This is a very unstable position and easily leads to a loss of balance and a fall. The solution here would be to get a ladder that is tall enough for you to reach the branches you want to remove without overextending, so you can have your arms close to your body, stabilizing yourself and keeping your balance.
Nevertheless, it is still a better idea to call the professionals, as they will most likely have an arborist’s crane or other special equipment designed to deal with otherwise unreachable branches.
Avoid Cutting Trees Near Electrical Poles or Structures
If you’re attempting to cut a tree that grows near electrical poles, structures, or powerlines, there’s a small risk that you’ll end up causing damage in all three scenarios. Falling branches can rip power lines causing outages and sometimes fires, cut-off limbs and logs can fall and perforate holes in the roof, and a falling tree can knock off an electric pole, depriving entire city blocks of electricity. And those are just a few examples that come immediately to mind, while there could be many more totally unexpected incidents lurking in the unknown. As you probably already realized, it requires specialized skills and knowledge to cut trees in hazardous places – definitely not a job for a rookie. Hence it is better to hire a professional tree cutter to do the job, as you don’t want to be blamed for outages and leaky roofs.
Don’t Leave Debris Lying Around
After you successfully managed to cut the tree down without a major incident and think of relaxing with a cold drink on a couch, you soon realize that you are not done just yet. There is still a stump in the ground and a whole lot of debris to deal with. Properly disposing of wood can be costly, as you can’t simply dump it into the city trash can and will have to order a dumpster that can cost anywhere from $125 to $500, depending on the size, the location and how long you will need it for. If you can chop up the tree into smaller pieces in a day, you might be able to get off with little blood (money), or might not, if it will take you a week. If a tree is large enough, you might even have to take a few days off work in order to get rid of it as soon as possible. Also, just in case you were planning to just let mother nature do the job for you, sorry to disappoint, but it will not be feasible, as it takes decades for bacteria to turn tree trunks and branches into the soil.
The problem with the above scenario is not only the view out of your window that will be ruined for ages but also the pests, as fallen and rotting trees are the favorite hub for various insects, rodents, and other small animals that can make your yard a pretty unenjoyable place to be in. So forget about BBQs or family gatherings, as biting mosquitoes and staring at rats are not the sought-after entertainment for most people.
However, if you do have plenty of time and don’t mind working hard, you can chop up the tree into smaller pieces and use it for firewood, and BBQs and even sell some to your neighbors during Christmas time or to crafters who always look for suitable pieces. You will have to get a little creative with advertising, however, there are a few apps that you can download and post the wood you have for sale.
The last thing that should be discussed is the stump, since removing is a totally different matter, that requires more time, more knowledge, and more equipment. Of course, you can attempt to take care of it on your own as well by researching and through trial and error, but what will it save you if you will have to shed more money after every failed attempt? The size of the stump will play a key role in deciding what approach to take for its successful removal. Small stumps can be dug out of the ground with a shovel, a very labor-intensive work, or removed via chemical stump removers, which will require patience, as it takes a year for a stump to rot before it can be removed manually. Stumps of large trees will have to be removed by a stump grinder or excavated. Both pieces of equipment are expensive to buy and rent, plus they require training to operate.
In the end, the best solution will probably be to have experts take care of the tree, the debris and the stump, as they are fully prepared to leave your property in a condition that you would not even be able to tell if there was ever a tree there.
Going through the things you shouldn’t do when cutting trees must have enlightened you in following safety precautions in terms of tree cutting or tree removal activities. Now to spark your curiosity, we’d like you to check out our next article. Part 4: The Toughest Trees to Cut
Other parts of this Tree Removal and Tree Cutting series:
- Part 1: Basic Methods and Techniques
- Part 2: DIY or Hire a Professional
- Part 3: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do
- Part 4: The Toughest Trees to Cut
- Part 5: Tools and Effective Methods
- Part 6: Stump Removal Techniques
At The Tree Dudes, whenever tree removal or tree cutting is involved, we make sure that safety and precautionary measures are always at the top of our priority list. If you need a professional to handle your trees with ease, consider checking out our tree care services.