Sycamore trees are one of the largest varieties of broadleaf trees in North America, according to the University of Florida. Although mature specimens are useful as shade trees in some settings, they can be difficult to kill in unwanted locations. Cutting a sycamore eliminates the need for chemicals. This tree can form new growth from the stump, making it necessary to kill the entire root system. The best time to remove an unwanted sycamore tree is while it is still young and small. Unless you are a licensed arborist, you should leave the removal of large, mature sycamore trees to the professionals.
Contact your local code or building department for regulations governing tree removal practices. Your local government may require you to have the tree cut by a licensed and bonded professional, or make you obtain a permit to remove trees larger than a specific size.
Examine your sycamore tree by walking around it and inspecting the bark and limbs. Notice where the most growth is and which way the tree tends to lean. The direction your tree leans is also the most likely direction it will fall when cut properly.
Remove any items within the fall zone, which is the space beneath the tree to the leaning side that extends as tall and wide as the sycamore’s height and width. Clear an adequate space on either side of the fall zone to allow room for you to move away from the falling tree quickly and easily.
Cut off the lower branches along the leaning side to allow the sycamore to fall directly to the ground, rather than rolling over. Follow all safety instructions included with your chain saw when removing these bottom branches.
Make the initial cut into the trunk of your sycamore into the leaning side, extending the horizontal cut about a third of the way into the trunk. Place another cut at an angle above the first cut, making a 45- to 90-degree wedge with the two cuts. Remove the wedge from the trunk by tapping it with a hammer. Make your third and final cut straight into the trunk on the opposite side of the wedge cut, about 2 inches above the point of the removed wedge. As the saw cuts above the wedge, your sycamore should begin to fall toward the fall zone. Step away from the tree as it begins to topple.
After felling the sycamore tree, remove the exposed stump to the level of the ground. Drill holes into the stump. Place an organic, slow-release fertilizer over the stump, brushing it into the holes. Pile soil over the sycamore stump to encourage decay and prevent new growth.
- University of Massachusetts Extension: How to Kill a Tree Stump
- University of Missouri Extension; Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees; David Baker, et al.
- North Dakota State University: Chain Saw Safety
- “The Green World”, Gail M. Lang, Ph.D., 2007
- University of Florida: Sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis)
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