A leaner--a tree pushed over in a heavy wind or an improperly felled tree--deserves your utmost respect as it may fall on a person with lethal results. A leaner exemplifies an accident ready to happen and needs fixing as soon as possible. While multiple methods of cutting down a leaner abound, unfortunately only one or two techniques work well enough to use safely. Remove a leaner with the help of a friend and follow all safety procedures.
Things You'll Need
- Nylon towing straps
- Come-along winch
- Pry bar
- Long-handled lopping shears
- Hard hat
- Work gloves
- Steel-toed boots
- Motorized tow vehicle
Remove all the branches from the bottom, or butt end, of the tree--the part of the trunk that has become wedged into the earth. Cutting off all the branches will make it easier to use a pry bar.
Insert the wedge portion of your pry bar under the butt end of the leaner. Gently lift the handle straight up, just enough to cause the tree to slide forward a few inches. One person completes this action, known as walking the tree, while a helper keeps an eye on the position of the leaner. The helper alerts the person with the pry bar when the leaner prepares to fall.
Continue to walk the tree, using the pry bar. To conserve energy, the helper can switch places with the person operating the pry bar. Keep walking the leaner in this manner until it eventually falls to the ground.
Clean the area around the butt end of the leaner and lop off as many large branches as you can. This will give you plenty of room to work. Wrap a nylon towing strap around the butt end of the tree, making two complete loops with the strap.
Attach a nylon towing strap around the nearest standing tree. Make two full loops around the tree with the strap. Hook the short cable from the winch onto the nylon strap, then hook the long winch cable to the towing strap attached to the butt end of the tree. Take up slack on the winch.
Crank the handle of the come-along winch slowly and apply continuous pulling power on the winch line. This power will transfer to the connection made at the butt end of the tree, causing the leaner to move toward the anchor tree. Continue operating the winch until the leaner falls to the ground.
Back up a towing vehicle to within 6 feet of the butt end of the leaner. Clear away as much debris as possible to create a clear drag path. Lop off large limbs from the leaner. Wrap a towing strap around the butt end of the leaner, making at least two complete loops.
Attach the opposite end of the towing strap to the back of the tow vehicle and make sure no people remain in the general area of the leaner or tow vehicle, in the event the strap were to snap or the tree fall unexpectedly.
Ask the driver of the tow vehicle to drive away from the butt end of the leaner at very slow speed. The tow strap will become taut, and the butt end of the leaner will begin to move and follow the back end of the tow vehicle. The driver should stop the vehicle as soon as the leaner falls to the ground.
Tips & Warnings
- A leaner moves along easier when the soil is dry.
- Never attempt to cut down the tree that holds up the leaner.
- "Moving The Earth: The Workbook of Excavation"; Herbert L. Nichols, et al.; 2010
- "The Good Woodcutter's Guide: Chain Saws, Woodlots, and Portable Sawmills"; Dave Johnson; 1998
- U.S. National Park Service: Selecting the Right Tool
- New York State Department of Health: Logging Safety--A Field Guide