DIY Guide to Felling a Tree: Tips & Techniques

tree fruit

DIY Guide to Felling a Tree: Tips & Techniques

Tree felling or cutting should generally be left for experts to handle. However, if the tree is small and short in size, then it may not be a big task to handle all by yourself.  Whether it is a huge tree or a small one, you need to think safety first and at all times. You also need to be knowledgeable and precise on how to effectively and efficiently cut down the tree. Here are tips that come real handy when thinking of cutting a tree:

Tree Cutting Equipment

Before you begin, get all the tools and gear needed. At least, the following are basic pieces of equipment for tree felling

  • Protective gear – accidents usually occur while feeling trees, to reduce the risk of such accidents, protective like leg coverings, a thick hat, toe boots made of steel, goggles and hard gloves should be worn
  • First Aid box – make provision for first aid treatment just in case anything goes wrong
  • Chainsaw – ensure your chainsaw is in good working condition, with a sharp chain and adequate oil and gas
  • Rope
  • Axe
  • Wedges
  • Ladder

Carefully study the tree

The whole process of getting that tree down will be a lot easier if you critically observe and study it. Take a close look at the tree and answer these questions before you begin:

  1. What direction does it lean?
  2. Does the tree have broken or dead branches or limbs?
  3. Is there any safe place where it can land without damaging anything?
  4. Are branches from a nearby tree likely to obstruct it when falling?

Try to figure out the best escape route when cutting, this is to make you have a ‘Plan B’ just in case it didn’t go as planned. The best safety measure to take when the tree you are cutting doesn’t fall the way you intended it should fall is to quickly take cover behind another tree around.

Steps for Felling Trees

For both safety and efficiency, these steps will be very handy for cutting down your trees

  1. Sound it out – Hit on the tree with your axe, if it gives a hollow sound, it signifies it’s dying or dead. But if it gives a solid sound, it’s a live wood which makes it more tasking. Do this at different spots on the tree. You could be lucky to find a spot that would make the job easier.
  2. Study where it will most likely fall: Is there a tendency that the tree will fall in a particular direction? It’s easier and safer to select a spot where you know the tree will normally land. Try selecting a levelled spot, else the tree could bounce or roll which could be very dangerous.
  3. Make a Horizontal Cut – make a cut on the tree above your hip level, and the cut should not go beyond one-third into the tree. Take note that the tree will fall to the direction of this horizontal cut.
  4. Make a wedge cut – This cut would be like a slice of orange. You can make this cut from the top or the base, but ensure you put a stick on the other side of the horizontal cut, so there is a straight wedge cut.
  5. Make a back cut – this is the cut that decides how strong your holding wood is, and your holding wood is what determines the way the tree falls. Ensure this wood piece is very thick. Decide where you like the back cut to end and put a mark there. To achieve an excellent result, it should not be less than i.5 inches over the horizontal cut. Use a wedge as you cut to prevent the tree from falling on your chainsaw.
  6. Get set – As you finish with the back cut, you should be alert with a strong holding wood, else the tree starts falling. So keep supporting the tree with more wedges, and at this point you should be set to run.
  7. Run – When the tree starts dropping, get off completely through your earlier conceived escape route. Ensure you are facing the direction of the tree and not the backing it, as this could help you avert danger

Tree Cutting Cost Guide

Most times it is best to consult a professional company to handle tree cutting. But before you conclude on this, you should make inquiries about the cost. The prices vary, which is dependent on some factors. It could cost you as little as $125, you could also spend as high as $1500 or even more. Get our pricing guide and know how much it would cost you to get down your tree(s)

Cutting Roots

Except it is highly necessary, it is commonly recommended that the roots of a tree should remain. However there are some specific situations where cutting the tree root may be necessary:

  • If the said tree is getting overgrown for the yard where it is located or;
  • If the tree’s roots are growing hazardously close to your building’s foundation.

There’s no way you can be sure not to cause damages to the tree by cutting off its roots.  If you are cutting the roots, then you should as well remove the entire tree. These are steps for cutting roots of a tree as safely as its possible:

Techniques & Tips For Felling trees

Because of the risks involved in cutting down a tree, it is advisable that you consult professionals to handle this job for you whenever you have to. However, if you couldn’t hire professionals, and you think you would be fine getting the trees down all by yourself, then apply these techniques to make this go swiftly and successful.

Before you begin, ensure you are permitted to do this on your own. In so many areas, laymen are not allowed to do this. If you go against the laws that govern your jurisdiction, you could be made to pay a fine. Don’t forget that even the so-called professionals are greatly endangered when they fell trees. Hence simply get the services of those who are experts in this field, because the risk supersedes the gains in this.

Tree Trimming & Pruning: Tips & Techniques

magnolia tree

Tree Trimming & Pruning: Tips & Techniques

When the basics of tree pruning and trimming are known, it will be easy for you to handle majority of such work all by yourself. There are quite a number of handy tips and techniques that will help your trees remain in great shape. Being well equipped with the right equipment and adequate knowledge is all you may need to get your trees pruned, which would help their appearance and health, protecting them from dead branches which could mar their appearance and could also be a threat to their health.

Why should you prune or trim a tree?

Although there are countless trimming tips, however it is better you get concerned with the very basic tips which is all you need to get the job done. You could also hire an expert to get the job done, so you don’t stress over it.

Trees are generally trimmed for one of three purposes: aesthetics, safety or health. For example: On general basis, tress are majorly trimmed either for Health, safety or aesthetics reasons

  • Health – Cutting off affected branches and limbs from a tree can be helpful to the health of an infected tree. When the crown of the tree is thinned, it helps for easy flow of air which is strongly needed by the plant. Crossed branches should be trimmed to avoid them falling unexpectedly.
  • Safety – broken or dead branches can cause great hazard to the environment. These limbs or branches can cause accidents in the surroundings. Sometimes these branches and limbs grow so close to utility lines. If this is noticed, the utility company should be informed to handle it.
  • Aesthetics – Regular and effective pruning helps to beautify the tree. However, care should be taken so as not to try to give the tree a shape or size different from its natural shape or size as this could cause serious damage to your tree.

General Tree Trimming Tips

  • Except when there is a hazard, the most appropriate time to prune or trim a tree is in its inactive season. Although pine trees can be tactically pruned at any time, but it’s always safer to do such when its dormant.
  • Carefully consider the size of the branch you are taking off. If it’s smaller than a 5cm in diameter branch, it’s ok cutting it off, between 5cm to 10cm you may need to have a rethink. If it’s bigger than 10cm in diameter, then you need to be extra sure you just have to do it, before you do it.
  • Branches with weak, narrow and v-shaped angles should be just what is trimmed, while those that are U-shaped should be retained.

The branch growing out from the side of the stem should be between one-half and three quarter of the stem’s diameter at the point the branch attaches to the stem, if not they should be cut-off.

After pruning, living crown to tree height ratio should be 2 to 3

  • Branches are better pruned when they are still young. It is easily managed at this age and it reduces the risk of giving the trees scars.
  • Neither trim a branch too long nor too close – Don’t either cut off the branch collar or leave a big stub.

Cost of trimming

Trimming and pruning keeps your landscape beautiful and attractive, as it removes dead and broken branches which help to keep the tree in great health. There are different factors that determine the cost of pruning, but most on whether you are doing it yourself or hiring an expert.

Get Tree Trimming Cost & Prices from your local experts, our local experts are great. We use them a lot.

Tree Pruning Tips

The following are techniques and tips that are handy in pruning, or just in case you need to learn more about typical tree pruning care and maintenance technique.

Crown Thinning

In thinning the crown of a tree, take note of the following tips:

  • Lateral branches should be properly spaced, especially on young trees.
  • Cut off branches crossing other branches or running against them.
  • If you must remove more than one-fourth of a living crown, it must not be done at a time. If it must be removed, then it should be evenly spread over some years.

Crown Raising

For easy flow of pedestrian movement and some other reasons, the crown can be raised by technically pruning the tree. Live branches can be kept at two-third of the tree’s height. Removing too many branches around the bottom half may cause the tree to be unable to build up a strong stem.

Crown Reduction

  • If you must take anything more than half of the foliage off the branch, just take-off the entire branch.
  • The crown should be pruned only when it is really necessary to do so. Branches that should be cut off are those that are at-least one-third of the stems’ diameter.

Techniques for Tree Trimming

These are helpful techniques to note

  • Always search for the branch collar at the branch’s base before making a cut. Also, find the branch ridge-this is at the top surface which is parallel to the branch angle at the stem.
  • Ensure you always cut from outside the bark ridge of the branch and position your cut down and far from the stem. Be careful enough not to get the branch collar injured.

Apply same measure in pruning both dead and living branches

  • If in a situation where the stem is very long, apply the three-cut technique: Have a notch made beside the branch that hangs away from the direction of the branch that is to be retained;  the second cut should be made over the ridge of the branch, inside the branch crotch; the third cuts parallel to the bark ridge of the branch, cutting  through the stem to remove the stub
  • Have these tactics and techniques from this guide handy before going ahead to trim and prune your trees.



Tree stump removal


Reasons to Remove a Stump

After all the rigours you must have gone through trying to cut down the trees, I’m sure you don’t want to leave those stumps standing there. These are some of the reasons why you should remove those stumps from your compound:

  • They occupy valuable space: A lot of people love to have their compound spacious and smooth, but these stumps could be a barrier.
  • They are eyesores – Looking into your compound and seeing stumps damaging the beauty of the landscape, is a sight you don’t want to behold. It looks horrible when weeds grow on them, which is going to happen over time.
  • They are hazardous – While some stumps are easily seen, other are covered by grass/weeds which make it a tripping hazard. This could be very dangerous, as one could stub the toe on it.

Assessing a Tree Stump

In removing stumps, different methods can be applied, because some stumps are harder to remove than others are. To make the task easier, you should be prepared before time and have knowledge of the methods and technique to use for a particular job type. For instance, removing pine tree stumps are less tasking than removing deciduous tree stumps.  This is because the pine tree is not deep rooted while the deciduous tree has long and deep roots.

Why are some stumps relatively easy to remove? Naturally, the age of a particular tree and its size are the two critical factors for the ease or difficulty in the removal of stumps. The Older the stump, the less difficult it is to remove. So also, small stumps are less tasking to remove than the big ones. Another vital consideration before choosing a stump removal method to adopt is the amount of stumps to be removed. You don’t want to remove 100 stumps with your bare hands. After going through this guide, you will have adequate knowledge on which to make your decision of the most appropriate method to use to get those stumps off.

Removing a Stump by Grinding it Away Yourself

If you need to get the stump(s) out quickly and trying to do that manually just didn’t work, then a grinder would be handy here – Just hire one and grind off the stumps yourself. These are heavy-duty machines that weigh about 1,000 pounds, and you could rent one for between $100 and $200 per day. Therefore, to be financially conscious, it makes a whole lot sense to get the stumps out yourself when several stumps are to be removed.

In addition to the grinder, you will need a shovel, a mattock, a chainsaw and a rake.

  1. With the use of a shovel or hoe, clear off the sands and rocks from the stump.
  2. Now, use a chainsaw to cut off as much as possible from the stump, attempting to have it levelled to the ground.
  3. With a hydraulic lever, put the grinder wheel some few inches on the stump. After making it low, take it about 3 inches into the stump. Do a side to side movement with lever.
  4. When it is grinded to about 4 inches with a grinder wheel, take it forward. Go all through the process again and again until you have the entire stump about 4 inches below ground level.

Always ensure you are wearing protective gear, as this equipment is a very dangerous one. Be sure always to put on protective glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the flying wood chips. If you have no experience with using the machine, it would be nice to have someone at the rental store teach you how to use it.

If all you have to remove is just a stump or two, a professional company will charge about $100 to $200; this might be the best option in this case. Some companies will also haul away the stump as a bonus

Method #1: Removing a Stump by Hand

Many people who go about removing stumps by hand most times get it all wrongly done. To successfully do this, it’s best to deal with small tree stumps. A lot more better if it’s a stump from a diseased or older tree.

You need to have some appropriate tools to be able to remove stumps yourself. Some of these tools are Limbing saw or chainsaw, a shovel, a pick mattock, an axe, a four wheel drive truck, a digging bar and some chain.

To manually get rid of these stumps, follow these steps:

  1. If there is any branch from the trunk, remove with the chainsaw or limbing
  2. Cut off the top of the trunk, however leaving a part big enough to be used as leverage
  3. Use the pick mattock, shovel and digging bar to expose the roots
  4. Use a power washer or a hose to wash off the dirt so as to show more roots
  5. Use an axe to cut off the major roots
  6. Exert force on the trunk by pushing it. If more roots are out, cut them. Keep pushing and pulling until the trunk is completely off the ground
  7. If the trunk happens to be resistant to the pushing and pulling, then tie a chain around it connected with the four-wheeled-drive truck
  8. Move the truck forward and backward, wiggling the trunk until its roots are off the ground.

Method #2: Tree Stump Killer and Chemical Stump Removal

If you are not so good at manual, then you could alternatively use the chemical option. Using a chemical to remove stumps, the following will be needed: chainsaw, an axe, kerosene or fuel, a drill and potassium nitrate. Here is a brief explanation of how to use chemicals to remove stumps

  1. Use your chainsaw to cut off the stump as much as possible
  2. Drill around the stump, at least 1-inch whole. Drill more holes going deeper – about 3 to 4 inches. The holes ought to be between 8 – 12 inches deep based on the size of the stump
  3. Create 45-degree angles by drilling more holes around the stump meeting with the previously dug holes
  4. Pour in some little quantity of potassium nitrate in the dug holes
  5. Pour in water to fill the holes
  6. Leave it for a period of between 4 to 6 weeks till stump gets spongy
  7. Break the spongy stump with an axe
  8. pour fuel or kerosene on the stump and leave it for an additional week(optional)
  9. fire up the stump, leaving it to burn until it’s all ashes(optional)

Learn more about tree stump killer and chemical stump removal here.

DIY Method #3: Burning a Tree Stump

Assuming you have those trees down and you’ve got your landscape cleaned up, but for those annoying stumps still sitting around. A method that can be  effective and that will neither unsettle your wallet nor cause you stress is simply to get the stump burnt.

Highlights of stump burning direction

  1. Drill an eight to ten inches deep holes in the middle of the stump
  2. Remove all the debris from the hole
  3. Drill more holes, with about an inch of space between the holes
  4. Pour in potassium nitrate into the holes
  5. Pour boiled water in each hole
  6. Keep pouring water to dissolve the potassium nitrate
  7. Put the scrap wood and on the stump, light it up and wait for the stump to ignite
  8. Breakup whatever is left with your shovel
  9. Fill up the holes with sand

DIY Method #4: Rot a Tree Stump

Just like burning a stump, a stump can also be removed by rotting it, after which filling is done.

Brief rundown on rotting a stump

  1. Drill 8 to 10 inches deep holes at the centre of the stump
  2. Pour in your any high-nitrogen substance into the holes
  3. Pour water in each hole
  4. Break the stump into pieces as it gradually softens
  5. Fill up the hole with soil

Disposing of Old Tree Stumps

It isn’t always so easy to get rid of a stump especially a large one. The city may refuse to take them with your other wastes. Find out from your city if they’ll be picked up, if they say no, then ask if there be any option that makes provision for it. IN some areas, recycling centres do collect these large stumps

If it happens you have a lot of stumps to dispose off, hiring a wood chipper and using the wood chips for other around your compound would be a great idea. You could also burn the an old dried up tree stump if it’s not against the laws in your area. Burning large stumps may take a real long time to get totally burnt. Endeavour to get the stump covered with crap wood before burning

Some companies take away the old tree stump but for an extra fee. Always make proper inquiry before hiring a stump removal company

How to Use the Space

Now you have successfully gotten rid of the stump(s), ensure to fill up the hole(s) with topsoil, spread grass seeds over the soil and cover with mulch hay. Regularly water and see its progress, after which you could use the spot for whatever pleases you to. Now you will observe your yard has a more brilliant look


If you’re going to remove one stump from your yard, you might as well remove all of them. You can do the job yourself, but you should weigh the time, cost and effort that are involved carefully before doing so. There’s a good chance that you’ll have to buy or rent tools to get the job done, so it may ultimately be best to let the professionals do it instead.

Rather than thinking of getting rid of one of the stumps in your yard, you could as well get them all off. Although this can be done all by yourself,  take time to think about the time, effort and cost it entails before engaging yourself in it. If you choose to do it yourself, chances are you will most likely hire or rent the tools needed to get it done, so getting the experts to get the job done might just be the best option