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5 Tips for DIY Small Tree Removal

Does a tree in your yard have you stumped? You’d like to remove it, perhaps, but you’re not certain of the best way to go about it. Not to worry … Mr. Tree has you covered. While we would typically recommend that you let one of our certified arborists handle your tree service needs, we understand you may be interested in DIY small tree removal to trim some of your landscaping costs. That’s why we’ll share what you need to know to remove that small tree from your yard. Here are our top tips for DIY small tree removal.

Do Your Research

First, it’s important to know that tree service work can be extremely dangerous. If at any time you feel uncertain about what you’re doing, it’s important to call in the experts. But if you have a smaller tree that you feel comfortable removing yourself, then we’ll talk you through the process.

Before you get to work, it’s important to research local ordinances to determine whether you are able to complete the tree removal work. For instance, don’t try to remove any tree that’s not on your property. If necessary, be sure to acquire all the proper permits as well. Once you’re confident that everything is in order, then you can begin your DIY small tree removal.

Plan Ahead

5 Tips for DIY Small Tree Removal

One day before you remove the tree, thoroughly saturate the soil around the tree. This will soften the soil, making the tree’s removal much easier to complete.

Before you begin, you’ll also want to be sure you have all the proper safety gear. That includes gloves, goggles, a helmet, and protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and steel-toed leather shoes. Once you’re ready to get to work, be sure to clear the area surrounding the tree. Keep people and pets a distance of at least double the tree’s height away.

The next step is to determine which way the tree will fall. For instance, if your tree is left-leaning, then it is likely to fall to the left. Examine your tree carefully to determine its directional orientation. This will help you decide the best way to chop it down.

At the same time, you’ll also want to determine what to do if the tree falls in an unexpected direction. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider your escape route if the tree falls in a direction you were not expecting, as well as if the tree falls the way you had originally planned. Carefully go over all worst-case scenarios before you begin your tree removal work.

Use Caution

When you’re confident the area has been properly secured and you’ve carefully considered your emergency plan should something unexpected happen, you’re ready to begin your DIY small tree removal.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make an angled cut into the side of the tree. The cut should be done at a 70-degree angle and made in the direction that you want the tree to fall. Continue cutting with a saw or axe until the cut is about a quarter of the tree’s diameter. Once you are complete, the portion of the tree that has been removed should resemble a slanted L.

The next thing you’ll want to do is cut through the tree horizontally from the opposite side. The cut should align with the lower portion of the slanted L–shaped cut that you made earlier. You’ll want to be sure you cut as straight as possible, but don’t cut the entire way through. Be careful to leave about a tenth of the tree’s diameter intact so that you can better control which direction the tree will fall.

Once the tree begins to fall, be sure to take one of your escape routes as planned. Wait until the tree has completely fallen over before you approach it again. If the tree doesn’t fall on its own, slowly approach it and give it a slight push in the direction you want it to fall.

Be Thorough

Once your tree has fallen over, it’s time to remove the unsightly stump it will leave behind. To do this, first dig the dirt out from around the stump and roots with either your hands or a shovel. You can also use a stump grinder, which can typically be rented from a home improvement store, to get the job done.

It’s especially important if you are removing a damaged tree that you also remove the tree’s root ball. This prevents the tree from sprouting back up. The tree’s diameter will help you determine how much you need to dig to remove the root ball of the tree.

Generally, for every inch of the tree’s diameter, you’ll want to dig 9 to 12 inches in diameter and 6 inches in depth. You can use a spade to break the soil apart. Then securely plant the spade into the ground, slide it under the tree’s root ball, and lift the root ball up and out of the ground. Use a spade or saw to remove any remaining roots.

Once the tree, stump, and roots have been removed, be sure to transport them to an appropriate site for disposal. This might be your compost or firewood pile, but if the reason for removing the tree is disease, you’ll want to dispose of it off your property to prevent the disease from spreading to your other trees and plants.

Call for Help, If Needed

Again, these steps should only be attempted with small tree removal. Larger tree removal should be left to the professionals because of the dangerous hazard large trees pose. Even when you’re dealing with a small tree, it’s important to take all the proper precautions. If the tree’s removal is giving you problems or you have concerns about tackling it yourself, don’t hesitate to give Mr. Tree a call. We can help you troubleshoot any problems. After all, tree removal is a specialty of ours.

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