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What Are the Steps of DIY Tree Removal?


Trees bring so much beauty and majesty to a yard. They offer shade in the hot summer months and have many benefits, such as giving off oxygen and cleaning the air around us. It can be hard to admit when it’s time to say goodbye to a beloved tree. Tree removal is usually the last resort, if pruning or other safe processes don’t work to save a sick tree. Some DIYers may want to tackle the tree removal process themselves. The question is, when is it safe to remove a tree yourself, and if it is safe, then how do you go about removing the tree safely? Your Vernon Imel tree experts are here to give you some guidance on DIY tree removal.

Why You May Want to Remove a Tree

When a tree is dead or dying, it’s a good idea to remove it once all possible methods of saving the tree have been tried with no successful results. A weakened tree could attract pests such as carpenter ants, termites, or other insects, or nesting critters like rats, putting your property at risk as well.

If your tree has a contagious disease, it’s likely to spread to the other trees on your property and possibly onto your neighbor’s trees as well. Removing the tree before it’s able to spread the disease is the cheapest and best option.

A sick tree is a weakened tree. These trees are at a high risk of falling unexpectedly, which could cause injury or property damage. Trees that are dead or dying are also not aesthetically pleasing to look at. Removing them can improve the curb appeal of your yard.

Signs a Tree May Fall

The first question you need to ask is, does the tree really need to be removed? If you have a tree that’s a falling hazard, it’s best to remove the tree before costly and potentially deadly damage can be caused. Trees that are at risk of falling can also have limbs detach or the entire tree can topple over, potentially crushing your roof, a neighbor’s roof, a nearby car, or even a person. It only takes a little high wind to cause at-risk trees to fall.

Luckily, there are warning signs to watch for when determining if a tree is a falling risk. First, look for fallen branches around the tree. A tree will often drop branches that are dead or dying in an effort to reduce its size, which reduces the need for nutrients. This is a sign that there may be something wrong with the tree.

You can also look for missing bark or cracks in the tree. These are called cankers, and often they can be a weakened spot in the tree, making it more susceptible to breakage. If a tree is leaning more than 15 degrees from either wind or root damage, it’s time to remove the tree.

If the root is showing signs of rot, such as growing mushrooms around the tree base, this could be a sign the tree at risk for falling and should be considered for removal. If you aren’t sure about whether a tree is at risk, you can consult your arborists at Vernon Imel.

When Is It Safe for DIY Tree Removal?

Typically, if you require a ladder to remove tree limbs, it’s best to contact a tree specialist to remove the tree. It’s never safe to operate a chainsaw while on a ladder, as you could fall and injure yourself or those nearby. It’s hard to determine where a tree limb may fall, as they are very unpredictable. The freshly cut limbs could fall and break a window or damage a building or worse. If you have a small tree that needs to be removed, and you would not require a ladder to reach the tree limbs, then it’s probably safe to remove the tree yourself. If in any doubt, contact a tree service company.

Steps to Remove a Tree Yourselfmr-tree-what-are-the-steps-of-diy-tree-removal

DIY tree removal should start by obtaining the proper tree removal safety gear, such as safety glasses, gardening or work gloves, and a helmet.


Review the state of the tree. Is the tree leaning to one side? If so, it’s more likely to fall in the direction it is leaning. You will need to review the area where it will land and remove anything in the way. Trees do not always fall in the intended direction, as they can be unpredictable, so be sure to have two secure ways of removing yourself from the situation if things go awry.

Wet the area around the tree the day prior to tree removal. This will make the area around the tree root ball soft and easier to dig through. Measure the tree trunk prior to tree removal. This will allow you to determine how far you must dig to remove the tree root ball. For every inch of the tree trunk, you must dig six inches around the tree roots. This will ensure you remove the entire root system.


Once you have completed the above steps and are ready to start the removal process, cut a notch in the tree on the side you want the tree to fall to. You can etch the tree to outline where you are wanting to make the notch cuts.

Start with the top cut first and then the bottom cut. Once the tree starts to lean, remove your cutting tool. This is a good time to use one of your planned evacuation routes to get out of the way since falling trees are very unpredictable. Always keep your eye on the tree so you can stay clear of the falling trunk and limbs. Once the tree has fallen, you can dig out the root ball for removal.

For removal of larger trees or for any questions about tree removal, contact your arborist experts at Vernon Imel.