The Best Advice on DIY Tree Removal and Cutting

The Best Advice on DIY Tree Removal and Cutting

When it comes to DIY home and landscape improvements, there are some projects you can handle like a pro and others you should leave to a pro.

Painting a room? Go for it! Retiling a bathroom? Tricky, but you can master it, right? Planting a tree? Sure! But what about removing a tree?

Read on to find out if it’s ever safe and recommended to remove a tree on your own.

Is it safe to DIY tree felling and cutting? Are there risks and dangers with DIY tree removal?

Rule of thumb: If you would have to use a ladder to reach and remove tree limbs, that tree is too big for you to remove safely.

If you were to get up on a ladder with a chainsaw, so many things could go wrong. You are putting yourself and your home at great risk. You could fall off the ladder, lose control or worse. And the tree limbs you’re cutting could fall on your home, go through a window, hit you, or even hit the ladder, knocking you off while holding a moving chainsaw. Falling tree limbs are large and completely unpredictable, which makes a dangerous combo.

While there are many landscape projects you can safely and easily DIY, tree removal is one that is not worth the money you save. If you hurt yourself, you’ll be slammed with medical bills, and if you damage your home, you’ll have to pay for those repairs, too. Plus, Davey arborists give tree removal estimates for free. They have the equipment, experience and insurance needed to do the job safely.

What if I pull up a tree or tree stump with my truck?

We’d recommend against it–especially if the tree you’re removing is close to your home or any nearby structures. It’s difficult to anticipate what direction the tree will fall, which could do serious damage. Whatever you save on tree removal will not outweigh the cost of repairing your truck or home.

Plus, trees can be incredibly heavy, much heavier than you’d think. An 80’ maple tree that’s two feet wide likely weighs more than 20,000 pounds or 10 tons. Most standard pickup trucks are designed with a towing capacity between 5,000 and 13,000 pounds. The stump alone could potentially exceed that limit.

If you attempt to uproot a large tree or stump that exceeds your truck’s abilities, the ropes or chains you’re using could break. Or you may even propel your truck off the ground. All of this has the potential to damage your truck.

The damage you could do to your truck or home just isn’t worth the “savings” of DIY tree removal. Click here to get a visual of all the elements that could go wrong. 

Can I safely cut down a small tree? 

If the tree is small enough that you could remove it without climbing a ladder, it’s likely OK if you remove it yourself. If you have any doubts about whether it’s safe to remove the tree on your own, contact an arborist, and they’ll provide guidance.

If you're ready, here’s how to do that safely:

  1. Water the day before you plan to remove so that the soil is easier to dig.

  2. Measure how many inches your tree trunk is. For every inch, plan to dig 6” deep to reach the entire root system. Using that depth, dig around the tree’s roots, which likely extend out to the outer edge of the tree’s canopy.

  3. Using leverage, wiggle the root ball out. If the roots are intact, you can transplant the tree. Or if you want to dispose of it, cut it up with a chainsaw. If you go that route, wear protective eyeglasses, earplugs and gloves.

Need a professional to remove your tree? Click here for a free estimate.

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