How to Safely Cut Down a Tree


Do you have a tree that you want to cut in your yard but you’re unsure how to safely do it? Are you worried that you might have to spend hundreds of dollars to call a professional to get the job done?

Well, don’t worry. Even though it’s not as easy as probably cutting your nails, following a step-by-step guide will help you cut down a tree without much trouble.

As with any activities like this, your number one concern must be safety. You have to safely cut down a tree. Trees are big and could impact not only your house and garden but also your neighbors. You don’t want to have them calling authorities and complaining about you.

Cutting down trees can also help you free up more space in your lawn. After cutting them down, you can set up a backyard hammock, patio dining set and patio umbrella.

Laws About Cutting Down a Tree

There are actually regulations in the United States you need to be familiar with before you cut down a tree. You can’t just go around cutting trees as you please, especially not your neighbor’s or the ones at the park.

For big companies that need to cut down trees to fulfill their operations, they have to follow certain guidelines and stick to their limitations. Usually, there are no rules associated with cutting down trees on a private property. But there are specific rules where developers can remove trees that are dead or hazardous.

In the city of Sacramento in California, you are required to obtain a permit for tree removal to safely cut down a tree on a private property if it’s designated as a heritage tree or is an oak. These types of trees are protected in CA. San Jose also requires a permit to safely cut down a tree if its trunk has a circumference of 56 inches or greater.

If a tree is encroaching from the street or other public spaces in Colorado, you have to apply for a permit to safely cut down a tree. Or you will be penalized by the city government. Trees with diameters larger than 36 inches in Florida require permits before you can cut them down. In Illinois, residents of Chicago cannot safely cut down a tree on their private property without getting a permit from the Forestry Bureau.

These are the common provisions in America in cutting down trees. So make sure to check with your city and state if you would need a permit before you safely cut down a tree.

How to Safely Cut Down a Tree

After checking if you’re allowed to cut down your own tree on your private property, you must make sure that you have all the safety requirements to safely cut down a tree.

  • Safety Gear

    Before protecting anyone or anything else, you must first protect yourself. Make sure you wear protective gear. A logger’s helmet should protect you from falling branches which could cause you injuries. You can also wear earmuffs depending on your tools and face screen to protect your eyes. Safety glasses can be very useful to keep dust away from your eyes.

  • Tools

    Some of the tools you would need are a chainsaw, rope, and wedges.

  • Check the Area

    First, to safely cut down a tree, make sure that there are no structures, power lines or people or pets close to the height of the tree. Then, pick a direction where you want the tree to fall. It’s better if it’s the direction of where the tree naturally leans. Clear this area.

  • Make a 70-Degree Cut

    Using your saw, make a 70-degree cut on the side of the tree facing the direction that you want it to fall. Cut it to a depth of a quarter of your tree’s diameter.

  • Create a Notch

    Turn the saw sideways and meet your first cut by cutting horizontally. This will create a notch. You must make sure that the cuts meet.

    This notch should go more than halfway through the tree. Its mouth should face the direction you want the tree to fall. If the tree is upright, it will fall in that direction. You can tie a rope to the top of the tree so that it would fall in the direction you want.

    When you make the notch on the other side and the tree doesn’t lean in the right direction, you can pull on the rope to direct it.

  • Felling Cut

    Move the opposite side to make the felling cut. Cut horizontally just slightly above the cut you made before this. Saw it until there is enough room to insert a wedge.

    Drive the wedge into finish cutting but do not touch the wedge with the blade. Leave about 10% of the width to work as a hinge.

  • Tree Falls

    The tree will lean and at this point of how to safely cut down a tree, you should move to one side because the butt of the tree could kick you. If your cut is not all the way to the notch, it leaves a sort of hinge that will keep it from falling to the side.

  • Limbing

    Once the tree is down, you can remove its branches or their limbs. Carefully work your way by starting at the base. Cut downward with a pulling chain or upward with the top of the bar or what’s called the pushing chain.

    There could be tension in the large branches because of their weight so you should cut them from the outside. Work your way toward the trunk.

  • Bucking

    When the limbs are removed and you’ve safely cut down a tree, you need to cut the trunk. This is called bucking. Look for two sections where two trunks could fall together and bind the saw. Cut through the side where there could be compression and from the opposite side.

It’s important to cut the pieces into a manageable size so you can safely stack them from the area when you safely cut down a tree.