It takes several years to grow a tree but only minutes to cut one – that is if you do it right. No matter what your purpose is of cutting a tree, you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure your own safety and of the people around you.
Most average-sized trees tend to support a small ecosystem. Local birds, squirrels and insects cohabitate in various parts. Your tree removal process should cause minimal casualties.
You will also have to put safety first. Before you begin the tree removal, equip yourself with the right safety gear especially if you are planning to use a chainsaw. Get a loggers helmet to protect yourself from the falling branches. You will also need earmuffs and a face screen to protect your eyes and ears. Use safety glasses to keep the dust out of your eyes and safety gloves to protect your hands. Whether you are a rookie or a pro, you must have chaps, pants and boots that have saw-stopping power. Better safe than sorry as tree felling accidents can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
Don’t neglect other health hazards that can come as a side-effect like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, strokes or other personal health impairment. As a best practice, always have friends or experienced personal on standby.
Check your city administration authorities for local rules regarding felling a tree. (There are penalties and fines levied for branch and tree felling clauses in leases which makes this a very serious matter. This is available in the Lands Department Practice Note).
Some big trees may require lifting equipment after the felling is complete so access your needs before you start. Here are some handy felling tips:
The first decision that you’ll make is where you want the tree to fall. This is your ‘drop zone’ area in your garden or outside your house, and should be free from people, vehicles, shelters or anything else that can be damaged. Also note if your drop zone is level and free from any big rocks or debris. An uneven ground can mean that the tree can roll, break or ‘bounce’ back a revenge on you.
Check other obstacles that may come in the way. Does the tree have dead branches or loose bark that can cause injury? Take a walk around the tree. Are the trees branches entangled with another tree which may cause a problem? Examine the tree to see if it has fungus or rot that can cause instability while cutting.
Also check for obstacles in your ‘escape route’ – the path you will run when the tree falls. Typically, this should be at a 45-degree angle from the side or back of the tree and free from objects you can trip over.
Most trees tend to ‘lean’ in the direction of the wind. Others may grow crooked to catch the light. Cutting a tree in that direction lets the weight acts as a ‘pull’ during the felling process.
If you have obstacles in the leaning direction then you have slightly more trouble n your hands. The first thing you need to observe is if the tree doesn’t have rot as this may effect the direction of the fall. To cut a ‘back lean’ tree, you will need additional wedges which can be inserted in the first cut to support the tree falling in the opposite direction. Another option is to do a plunge cut in the back lean direction and use a winch and other heavy equipment from a safe distance to pull the tree down.
An undercut is a V-shaped notch which is cut into the side of the tree in the direction which you want the tree to fall. Typically it is measured out to be one fourth of the tree’s diameter. Undercuts can also be done at a 90 degree angle that gives more time for the tree to fall before the top and bottom of the undercut’s sides come together.
The goal is to make the felling cut or backcut to meet the tip of the undercut’s notch. When the tree falls, the cut will act as a hinge guiding the direction of the fall. To cut the undercut notch, first cut the top side of the V and then the bottom. If you’ve done it right the wedge will pop out.
The backcut or felling cut is done in the opposite direction of the undercut where it meets the notch. Be careful to not to have this cut below the undercut (which will reverse the purpose). Also be careful to not cut through the notch meeting point as this may tip the tree over in a direction you may not expect.
Once the tree starts to fall, quickly shut out your chain saw and move towards your escape route. Having a ‘look up’ partner at this juncture many just about save your life. One of the most important felling tips is to never turn your back to a falling tree.
There are many ways of removing tree stumps, each with different levels of ease. If the roots aren’t very deep, you can dig the stump out after you cut the visible roots on the surface. You can rent out a stump grinder that can ground the stump and the roots up to a the depth of a feet You can create a wood fire with the stump in the center and keep it burning until the stump burns out You can drill holes in the stump and add a chemical stump remover and it will eventually come off in a few weeks
Once you remove the stump, fill the hole in the ground with loam or sawdust to let the ground stay leveled.
Tree cutting is really a full day job. Plan it out and don’t be in a hurry to get the job done. Have first aid handy and help any small animals find a new habitat with the help of local animal protection organizations.
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