Things You'll Need
Knowing how to use a winch to take down trees can make tree felling safer and faster. You can use a winch to pull down a dead tree, and you can also use a winch to help direct the fall of a tree as you cut it down. Winches can also be used to extract a half-fallen tree from the branches of surrounding trees. The size of winch you use will depend on the size of the trees you are dealing with. For tall trees, you will need a winch with a long cable. You will need thicker cables in your winch if you are using it to pull down trees without cutting them.
Establish an area where you plan for the tree to fall. This area should be cleared of anything that you do not want to be crushed. If you are in a residential area, make sure no pets will wander through this area and that any people around are aware of the fall area.
Attach the winch securely to a solid part of the tree two-thirds of the way up the trunk. Use a strop to fix the winch cable to the tree. If there are not many branches on the tree, you can cut a notch in the trunk to prevent the strop from slipping.
Stretch the cable about twice the height of the tree in the direction you want it to fall. If your winch is attached to a vehicle such as a bulldozer or tractor, you do not want the tree to fall on it. If your winch is fixed, you will also want it out of range of the falling tree so whoever is operating the winch is not in danger.
Tighten the winch to pull the tree in the direction you want it to fall. If the tree is going to be cut down, increase the tension as the tree is cut in order to direct its fall. If the tree is dead and you are pulling it down, continue to tighten the winch until the tree falls. The same goes for removing a hung-up tree from the branches of other trees.
If you are using a winch and cutting down a tree, always cut from the opposite side of the tree from where the winch is pulling.
Follow all safety and operating instructions when using a winch. Wear gloves and a helmet.