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How to Fall a Tree

| 3/16/2009 4:46:00 PM

Becky, Andy, and EllyI often tell people, to be a farmer, one needs to be a jack of all trades. Most animal ailments are easily identified and treated and many common machinery issues can be alleviated with ingenuity and patience. Farmer, veterinarian, geneticist, biologist, horticulturist, the list goes on ...

One of the large trees that blocked sunlight.

This week I added a new name to my ever-lengthening list of titles: arborist. In our planning for the coming year, we decided to remove a few trees that were taxing one of our gardens. We found last year that a full third of our garden was essentially unusable because of two maples that were taking most of the soil nutrients. They needed to go.

Don't get me wrong, I love trees as much as the next hugger, but like all things, they have their place, and in our garden was not it.

There are a few things you must remember when falling trees but none, I repeat, NONE are more important than safety. This post is in no way intended to be a tutorial in chainsaw use. If you are considering doing tree removal yourself, it is vitally important that you attend a chainsaw safety course. They are short – usually only a half-day – and in addition to the learning the safety guidelines, you are instructed on different techniques that will greatly increase your efficiency.

Big Dave in Husqvarna safety gear.

When preparing for sawing, always where the proper safety gear. Big Dave, shown here in Husqvarna's dashing '09 line, is ready to go. He has a hardhat that is equipped with ear protection, a plastic mesh visor and neck covering. He also is wearing leg protection. These chaps are sufficient to protect from minor mishaps, but if you want complete protection, you can upgrade to a pair that are reinforced with kevlar.

Before you begin you want to make sure that your saw is in good condition. You want it to be fully fueled, well-oiled and the chain both tight and sharpened. Always place the saw on the ground when starting.

Before you begin, take a look at your tree and decide which direction you would like it to fall. Be sure to pay attention to the makeup of the tree that might influence the direction. You may need to account for things like an off-balance tree, a tree with wide or multiple trunks and even the lay of the land.

Consider the lay of the land and how the tree leans.

Before you begin, make sure the area is clean. If there is a waterspout or brush that could get in the way, clear it out. The second thing to do is map a clear, unobstructed path of escape. If you are working with a buddy (highly recommended), make sure they have one as well.

Making the 70-degree cut.

The first cut that you make will be a 70-degree cut in the side of the tree to which the tree will fall. Make this cut about 12 to 18 inches, ending about 18 inches from the ground. Then make a horizontal cut, connecting to the previous cut and resulting in a wedge taken out of the trunk of the tree.

The wedge taken out of the tree, from the side.

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