Trees are a great addition to any garden, yet there are instances trees are leaning and can pose a threat.
Felling trees in this scenario can be much more challenging than usual, and it requires felling the tree in the opposite direction to the lean in most cases.
So the question remains, how to drop a leaning tree safely?
The short answer is that cutting down a leaning tree isn’t easy. So, in our guide, you can learn about the right tools, tips, and tricks and how to cut down that dead tree leaning in a particular direction.
If power lines are involved, leave the job to the professionals, but for other instances, you can grab your logger’s helmet and tackle the falling tree with your bare hands. (Learn How To Cut Down A Tree With A Chainsaw Near A House)
How to Fell a Leaning Tree Against the Lean
Here’s a quick overview of the different ways to fell a tree properly, and then you can go through the step-by-step guide for felling trees in any scenario.
- Felling Against the Lean: Use felling wedges and fix the lean when felling.
- Felling with the Lean: Use your chainsaw and make special bore cuts, to stop any breakage and kickback from the tree trunk during felling.
Felling a Leaning Tree
When a leaning tree is chopped, it will naturally fall toward the lean. This isn’t ideal because the tree may lean toward your home, fences, or other trees. When cutting a leaning tree, perform the following to control the direction it falls:
- Cut branches off large trees before felling.
- Use felling wedges to correct tree lean.
It is vital you determine the felling zone, especially with larger trees. For one, you don’t want the tree to end up in your neighbor’s garden, and you need to plan your escape route once the tree falls.
Things You Need
- Tripod Ladder or an Extension Ladder
- Felling Wedges
- Sledgehammer or large Mallet
- Safety glasses
- Logger’s helmet
1. Remove Branches
Leaning trees frequently have more branch growth on the ground-facing side. This increases the tree’s leverage and makes it more prone to fall in the direction of the lean. To compensate, prune the tree’s branches before chopping the trunk. (Learn How To Kill A Tree Without Cutting It Down)
- Reach upper branches with a tripod ladder or extension ladder.
- If you’re using an extension ladder, tie it to the tree to keep it from slipping.
- Fix a rope to the chainsaw’s handle. Climb the ladder and bring your chainsaw up to you as you reach upper branches. It’s safer than climbing with a saw.
- Remove tree branches with 3 cuts.
- This reduces the tree’s weight and center of gravity, making the tree’s fall safer and easier.
Notch in Intended Fall Direction
- Make a notch in the tree’s side in the desired direction. First, undercut the tree’s lower side by a third of its diameter. Then make a slanting cut above the first to remove a triangular notch from the trunk.
- Make a right-angle notch on the tree’s opposite side.
- The notch should be 1/4 the tree’s size.
- Make your notch at a height that provides for easy cutting and safe chainsaw handling. It’s usually between the ankle and waist and most often at knee height.
Start the Felling Cut
- Start with a straight cut through the tree from the far side, toward the notch. Make sure you go deep enough to fit felling wedges beneath the chainsaw bar without interfering with the chainsaw blade.
- A third of the trunk’s diameter should be left between the felling cut and the notch.
- Begin felling by cutting toward the notch from the ground-facing side, which is the leaning side.
- Drive wedged into the cut and ensure they don’t interfere with the chainsaw bar by making a cut deep enough to clear them.
- Leave 1/3 of the tree diameter uncut between the notch and the felling cut to avoid surprise falls.
- If your tree is small, check the methods for felling small-leaning trees.
- Drive in the Felling Wedges
- Without removing the chainsaw from the felling cut, leave it running with the chain locked to prevent accidents. Take your sledgehammer or mallet, and drive the felling wedges hard into the felling cut.
To fix lean, use many falling wedges; you will need to insert felling wedges into the cut until the tree is upright.
Ensure that your felling wedges do not come to touch the chainsaw bar or chain since this might result in damage or breaking.
Complete Felling Cut
- You can finish the felling cut now that your tree is standing straight and the lean has been straightened. To do so, follow these steps:
- The chainsaw safety must be unlocked.
- Maintain your felling cut in the direction of the notch.
- At all times, stay out of the tree’s designated fall path.
- Maintain vigilance. Create at least two escape routes in case the tree falls unexpectedly.
- It’s critical to maintain constant vigilance. Although an adequately wedged tree will fall in the notch’s direction, be cautious and retreat to a safe distance if any signs of uncontrolled fall are seen.
How to Fell a Tree in the Direction of the Lean
Although it appears to be far less hazardous than down a tree against the lean, felling a tree in the leaning direction can be just as dangerous. Leaning trees can easily split and kick back with high speed toward the chainsaw operator when felled incorrectly felled. (Learn How Fast Do Maple Trees Grow)
This can result in significant injury, so it’s critical to take the proper steps.
There are no wedges necessary for this job. Your chainsaw is the only tool you’ll need. However, it is recommended that you utilize a ladder and remove tree limbs before felling the tree.
Make a Notch in Direction of Fall
- Make a notch in the tree’s ground-facing (leaning) side. Due to the tree’s slant, maneuvering the saw and angling the cuts may be challenging, so take your time.
- On the side of the tree that is bending toward the earth, cut a notch.
- The notch should be 1/5 the diameter of the tree.
- At knee height or below, cut the notch.
- If you cut the notch too deep, the tree’s weight and lean could lead it to fall. About one-fifth of the way through the trunk cut the notch.
Make Bore or Plunge Cuts
Don’t make a typical felling cut after notching. So trees fall and break, potentially injuring you or people nearby. A huge tree cut this way can slam against you. To chop securely, do this:
- Make a “bore” in the tree’s side. Stab your chainsaw into your tree from the side, halfway between the notch and the opposite side.
- Repeat the bore cut from the other side. There should be a notch and a boring cut, plus a wood strap between the two. A plunge cut is where the tree is larger than your chainsaw.
- Cut the bore slightly above the notch.
- This is crucial when cutting a leaning tree to let it fall in the leaning direction. No matter which way you want to fell a leaning tree, don’t take it lightly.
Make Felling Cut
- After cutting the notch and bore, cut the “strap” on the opposite side of the notch.
- Saw through the notched side. Cut through the “strap” to unite the falling and boring cuts.
- The notch’s “hinge” should be 10% of the tree’s diameter. This will prevent sudden tree breakage or kickback.
- Always keep yourself and any helpers out of the path of a falling tree for safe felling, and you are in the opposite direction to where the tree is falling.
How to Fell Small Leaning Trees Against the Lean
Leaning trees with a diameter of 10 inches (25 cm) or less are just too narrow to allow for notching and wedging without cutting them down totally. Follow the steps below to start felling a small tree against the lean.
Make the Felling Cut First
First, make a cut on the tree’s ground-facing or leaning side. This cut should be roughly halfway through the diameter of the tree.
To straighten the tree, drive wedges into the first cut. A smaller tree will be much easier to wedge and straighten than a larger tree.
Make the Notch
Make a small notch on the other side of the tree from where the first cut was made. This notch should be only 1/4 of the tree’s diameter deep.
Fell Tree with Wedges
To straighten the tree, go back to the wedges you used before. Continue putting wedges into the tree while standing well clear of the tree’s expected fall path. It will start to lean in the opposite direction of its natural lean and fall where you want it to fall in the right direction.
Step-By-Step How To Cut Leaning Tree In Opposite Direction
1. Examine the Area
Before starting, it’s a good idea to analyze the type and amount of effort required to fell a leaning tree. As a result, determining the tree’s center of gravity is the first step to understand the felling direction.
That way, if you cut it at the root, it will fall in that particular direction.
Mark the offset center of gravity and clear up the area underneath it.
2. Calculate the Backlean
This stage will need some mathematics. After identifying the fall direction and the offset center of gravity, it’s time to compute the back lean. When felling a heavily leaning tree, these dimensions are vital. (Learn How To Kill A Palm Tree)
If you’ve never heard of a back lean, it’s the distance from the ground to the undercut’s apex. The apex point is the front side of the hinge and the tree’s pivot point.
Then use a measuring tape to find the stump’s diameter. This measurement determines the frontal hinge distance from the tree’s back cut border. It will also help you count the key portions once felling a large tree.
3. Felling a Tree with the undercut
Make the undercut with an ax that is appropriate for the work. This incision should be made on the opposite side of the fall direction. As a result, it should ultimately be the polar opposite of the lean.
It would help if you cut two times, so make the first cut at a 90-degree angle to the tree, and the second half through the first.
When making these cuts, ensure you’re not cutting more than a 1-inch part of the thickness. The inner portion of the first cut should also be connected to the second cut.
The goal of both cuts is to generate a wedge-shaped piece that points in the direction of the tree’s lean.
4. Make The Back Cut
The next step is to perform a back cut in the tree’s back edge. The back cut is one of the most critical parts, especially if you want to take the no wedge approach on the side of the tree trunk.
The rear cut should be at least an inch higher than the notch in the face cut. After you’ve made the rear cut, keep a sharp eye on the tree because it can fall at this point.
5. Last Steps in Felling a Tree
The first thing you should do in the process is making sure you’re in a secure location.
As the tree falls, make sure you are in a safe location in the opposite direction. This tree is also rather large and heavy, and if it falls on you, it could cause a severe accident and even death.
If you have multiple trees, make sure you start with smaller trees first and end up felling trees that are larger last.
So these are the most critical and fundamental procedures to take to fell a leaning tree. You should not start taking leaning trees lightly as anything can happen when they try to fall in the opposite direction. Also, the pivot point of the tree trunk is very different from an upright tree.
When choosing a time to perform, keep in mind the weather and make sure it’s ideal.
Start with the smaller trees first and be 100 percent of the tree’s weight if you have many trees that need to be felled in the opposite direction. This will give you an estimate of the lean force in the end. Remove the tree stump after you’ve cut down the tree.