How to Fell a Tree

How to Fell a Tree

Tree felling is a key task for arborists and forestry professionals. Everyone has a basic idea of how to fell a tree, but it’s worth looking at the best ways to prepare and execute in terms of safety and efficiency.

One of the main hazards of tree felling is the impact the actual fall can have on the surrounding area. We've all seen cartoons where the character cuts the tree, stands back to watch it fall, only to be flattened as it falls in the opposite direction. Whilst this is an extreme scenario, it does highlight the dangers of tree felling without due care.

Whilst you can't guarantee the exact speed and impact of the tree as it falls, you can take a few steps to minimise the risk of damage or injury.

Preparing To Fell A Tree

As with all tasks involving heavy weights, sharp blades and powerful machinery, it is important to make sure the potential hazards are managed and minimised. As well as reducing the risk of damage to the surrounding area, it is of course important to avoid injury to yourself and others.

  • Prune low hanging branches
  • Measure the tree height and landing area
  • Plan an escape route
  • Warn others
  • Remove trip hazards

Make A Directional Notch

Making a directional notch helps aim the descent of the tree and the hinge ensures a controlled felling process. Begin by making a downward diagonal cut with a ratio of about 2:1 trunk height to width. Then cut horizontally a the base to meet the initial cut and remove a wedge from the trunk. When you make the felling cut, this should be slightly above the level of the bottom of the directional notch in order to help maintain the hinge.

As always when using a chainsaw, it is important to avoid forcing the saw through the wood. Let the saw cut at its own pace. This increases the amount of control and accuracy in your cutting, but also keeps the chain sharp and prolongs the life of the machine itself.

For more information about tree felling, see Husqvarna’s Chainsaw Academy pages.