How to Remove a Dead Tree

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When a tree dies it becomes a hazard to everything around it. The tree dries out and becomes brittle and the branches tend to fall off easily. Protect your family and home and remove dead trees before something bad happens.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw or handsaw
  • Prepare the area. Ensure there is enough room for the tree to fall. Clear away anything the tree could fall on.

  • Determine which direction the tree naturally leans. Ideally, you want the tree to fall in this direction.

  • Make the undercut. This V-cut should be at a 90-degree angle and one-fourth the depth of the tree. Make the cut on the side of the tree in the direction it is leaning. The undercut will come together when the tree falls.

  • Begin the backcut. Make this cut about two inches higher than the "V" of the undercut on the opposite side of the tree.

  • Choose two escape routes. As soon as the tree starts to fall, turn off the chainsaw and hurry down one of the routes. Get away from the base of the tree as it falls.

  • Remove the limbs once the tree is on the ground. Start with the branches at the bottom of the tree and move up. Stand on the opposite side of the tree and cut the branches on the other side of the trunk. Then cut up the remaining log.

  • Decide what to do with the stump. You have many options including digging it up, letting it decay or making it part of your landscape.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut into the bark to determine if the tree is dead. The tree is still alive if you find green under the bark. If you find brown or any other color, the tree is dead.
  • Use this method to remove small trees less than 10 inches in diameter or 20 feet tall. Call a professional for bigger trees.
  • Don't cut down a tree on a property line without first talking to your neighbor. The neighbor may not like the idea and this could cause a legal dispute.

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