Can I Cut Down a Tree by Myself?

Cut TreeQuestion: I’ve got a couple dead trees in my backyard that need to be cut down before they fall down on their own. My wife had some friends over one day and they all ganged up on me saying that I need to “call in the professionals.” But I think that I can do it myself with a couple buddies. I’ve got a chainsaw, know to wear goggles, and understand that you’ve got to rope off the tree so that you pull it down in the direction that you want it to go. Can I do this without professionals?

Answer: Maybe, dude.

First, check out these tree removal regulations and make sure that what you plan to do is cool with the government.

Second, tell your wife’s expensive friends to can it — their opinion doesn’t matter and they don’t have to pay for the expensive thing they’re suggesting. The cost of hiring professionals to cut down a single tree can range from $100-2000 depending on how big it is, where it is, whether you want it hauled away, and whether you want the stump removed, too. That’s a lotta money. If you cut it down yourself, your cost is $0 and you’ve got firewood that you can use or sell. So you might actually make money from the whole thing.

How tall is the tree that you're thinking about cutting down?

How tall is the tree that you’re thinking about cutting down?

Things to consider on whether you can do it yourself is how big the trees are — the smaller they are, the easier they’ll be to chop down on your own (no duh).

Also, how dead are they? Are there some live branches left, or are the trees like 50-foot hollow stakes coming from the ground because they’ve got zero branches? Trees that are newly dead and still have branches are more likely to fall how you’d expect than long-dead trees. The top of a long-dead tree might crack off unexpectedly and in an unexpected direction as you’re in the process of chainsawing or as the tree is falling. That can be dangerous!

I see that you know to rope off a tree and pull it tight in the direction that you want it to fall. Be sure that your buddies holding the rope are far enough away that the tree doesn’t land on them. Trees are taller and heavier than you think!

Do you also know about cutting a wedge into the tree? Do you know what that means? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, call a professional. If you do, then my confidence in your ability is growing.

Here’s a pretty good tutorial on how to cut down a tree on your own.

Cut Down TreeYou could always test out your ability on a smaller tree and see how it goes. There’s no rule saying that if you chop down one, you’ve got to do them all.

You might consider calling professionals to get several estimates on cost. When they’re giving you the estimate, you can ask questions about the trees and see what the dudes say. You might be able to learn more about the process that they suggest doing for your particular situation, and then just do it yourself anyway.

If in the end, you decide to have professionals do it for you, be sure to pit them against each other to avoid getting ripped off and remember that the cheapest bid isn’t always the best.

Good luck!

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