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Should You Try To Cut Down A Dead Or Dying Tree Yourself?

by Wade Black

If you live in a heavily wooded area, you may wince each time a thunderstorm rolls through for fear some of your trees won't survive the high winds. These concerns may be even more valid if you have dead or dying trees within falling reach of your home. While you may be reluctant to pay hundreds of dollars to have a tree professionally removed when you already have a chainsaw in your garage, a poorly-planned tree removal can be dangerous or even deadly. Read on to learn more about the equipment you'll need to do a safe and thorough job, as well as a few situations in which you may want to enlist the help of a professional logger or tree trimmer. 

What will you need to cut down a large tree? 

While an electric or gas-powered chainsaw will be the main workhorse of the tree removal process, you won't want to get started without donning the safety gear needed to protect your head, eyes, and limbs from injury. You'll first need a workman's helmet or hard hat, along with some safety goggles to prevent you from being injured by flying wood chips. Chaps or Kevlar pants can help prevent you from inadvertently cutting your leg if you lose your grip on the chainsaw.

For smaller trees, you may need a felling wedge and ax or hatchet to help coax the tree into falling in the right direction. For larger trees, you may want to keep a rope or even chain handy in the event you'll need to use a pickup truck to pull the tree away from your home.

Regardless of the size of your tree, you'll likely need to rent a stump grinder to ensure you're able to remove the entire stump and make the ground as level as possible. A poorly sawed-off stump can cause premature wear to your lawnmower blades or even damage the deck.

When should you hire a professional to remove your tree instead?

In many cases, your homeowners' insurance won't cover damage to your home resulting from non-professional tree removal. If the trees you'd like to rid yourself of are precariously close to your roof, hiring a professional to cut them down may be well worth the money -- even a complex tree removal is generally cheaper than the cost of a new roof. 

On the other hand, if your dead or dying trees are relatively small or far enough away that they shouldn't pose much risk to your home, car, or any outbuildings, you may want to try your hand at removal yourself.