How to remove a dead tree

Do you have a dead tree in your yard that is creating an eyesore in your otherwise perfect landscaping? Problem solved with this step-by-step guide on how to remove a dead tree.

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Before you start any project that involves cutting or digging into the ground, especially in a new home, call 811. This will allow for utility companies to come out to your home or business and mark their lines so you do not cut into them. You also want to check the area for any drainage pipes or invisible dog fences.

Clear the area around the tree, especially any rocks which could damage the stump grinder. Anyone who may be in the area when you are felling the tree should stay at a distance of double the tree’s height.

Try to cut the tree so that it fall along its natural angle of growth, so if it is already leaning one way then try to fell it that way. You should establish two escape routes to use while the tree is falling, one on each side of the tree leading away from the expected place it will fall.

Use the chainsaw to cut away the lower branches, leaving you an open area to begin cutting at the trunk.

First you want to make an undercut, which serves as the guide for the tree. You cut a 90 degree V-shaped notch into the side of the tree in the direction you want the tree to fall. The notch should be one quarter of the tree’s diameter in depth.

Then you want to make a backcut, which is a few inches higher than the hinge part of the undercut and on the opposite side of the trunk. Do not cut through the undercut, leave a bit of uncut wood between the two.

Yell “TIMBER!” as your tree starts to fall and move down your chosen escape path.

Remove the trunk and all limbs from the immediate area. You can put them through a chipper to make a nice mulch for your landscaping.

The stump of a tree after being cut down.
Cut a v-shaped notch in your stump to help the grinder chew up the tree.

Using the chainsaw trim down the stump close to the ground, make a V-shaped notch in the stump to help the grinder move more easily.

Next, position the wheel of the stump grinder right above the stump and turn it on. Then lower the wheel of the grinder until it touches the stump and let the machine do its work. Move the wheel from side to side to slowly eat away the stump.

A stump grinder moving back and forth across the stump.
Move the wheel of the stump grinder from side to side across the stump.

Once you’ve dug down about four inches, raise the wheel and move the machine forward along the stump. Repeat until finished. You can also use the grinder to grind up any exposed roots of the tree.

Once finished you can rake up all the wood chips created and use them as mulch. Fill the area where the tree was with topsoil.

stump grinder sits next to the hole where the tree stump was.