How to Cut Down a Large Tree Near a House [6 Steps for Safe Tree Removal]

When removing a large tree near a home, controlling the fall of branches and trunk sections is essential. To do so, clear the area around the tree of all debris. Then, remove branches at the bottom of the tree first. Work your way up, removing upper branches last. Then, notch the trunk to control the direction of its fall before felling it. This will ensure that people, pets, and property are unharmed. By using the proper equipment and following the correct steps, you can remove a tree close to your house.

How to cut down a large tree near a house

Tools for Tree Removal

In order to remove a large tree, you will need the following tools:

  • Tripod Ladder or Extension Ladder
  • Rope
  • Reciprocating Saw (Sawzall)
  • Chainsaw

A tripod ladder is the best tool for the job because it is a freestanding ladder. An extension ladder can be used when removing trees near houses, but extra precautions must be taken because you will be leaning the ladder up against the tree you are working to remove.

Safety Precautions

Felling a large tree is no simple task. Falling branches and trees can cause serious injury or damage to your house. To remain safe, do the following:

  • Check all tools prior to use. Verify they are in safe working condition.
  • Use new cutting blades and chains.
  • Wear protective gloves, footwear, and a hard hat.
  • When using an extension ladder, secure it to the tree with a rope, to prevent slippage.
  • Ask for help. A partner can assist in directing falling branches and trunk sections.
  • Clearly communicate plans and drop zones to anyone working with you.

These safety precautions are necessary when removing larger trees in order to keep yourself and all others in the work zone free from harm.

When to Call an Arborist

Tree removal services are equipped for cutting down large trees near houses. If you don’t have the proper tools or don’t have experience using the tools for the job, contact a local arborist. If you’re inexperienced with a chainsaw, operating one while atop a ladder is not the best time to learn.

  • You don’t have the proper tools and safety equipment.
  • Are not experienced using tree cutting tools, such as chainsaws.

If you’re considering professional tree removal, consult with 2–3 local services for quotes before choosing one. Check online reviews or ask trusted neighbors for a referral.

6 Steps to Cut Down a Large Tree Near Your House

Tree cut down near a house

In order to remove a large tree (20 feet tall or more) near your home, follow these steps. They will protect you and your house from harm and enable efficient tree removal. These steps are effective for nearly any type of tree, both hardwood and evergreen.

Clear the Area

Before you begin cutting, move vehicles, lawn ornaments, and any non-stationary sheds or equipment out of the area. This will prevent damage from falling branches or trunk sections.

  • Remove cars, equipment, lawn decor (statuary, birdbaths) from the drop zone where branches or trunk may fall.
  • Bring pets and children indoors.
  • If possible, trim back shrubs or plants near the tree, to make your job easier.

Make sure that all pets and young children are safely indoors. This will eliminate the risk of them suffering an accidental injury. If the tree you’re working to remove is surrounded by bushes or other plants, consider cutting these back so that you have an easier time navigating the workspace.

Cut Off Lower Branches

Start by cutting off the lower branches of the tree. Branches on lower portions are typically larger and heavier than higher branches, so a chainsaw is the best tool for the job.

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  • Use a chainsaw to cut off large lower branches.
  • When cutting large branches, first make an undercut by sawing upwards from the underside of the branch, about 1/4 of the way through the branch.
  • After the initial cut, saw downwards from the top of the branch, 6–12 inches further from the trunk than the undercut. Making 2 cuts this way will cause the branch to fall cleanly, without dangerous splintering and breaking
  • Control the fall of large branches with a rope if necessary.

Practice safe handling of your chainsaw. Use the 3 cut method for removing large branches. Branches cut improperly are prone to splintering and falling in uncontrolled ways, or even swinging back towards you and your ladder. A properly cut branch will drop straight down. Use a rope for controlling the fall of branches as necessary, to prevent damage to your home.

Remove Upper Branches

Now that you’ve cut off the lower branches, set up your tripod ladder, or use a rope to secure your extension ladder to the tree you’re cutting. Then, use your reciprocating saw to cut off the upper branches. Rather than climb the ladder with the saw in hand, tie a rope to the handle of the saw and bring the rope up with you. Once you’ve reached the upper portion of the ladder, haul the saw up to yourself.

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  • If you’re using an extension ladder, use a rope to tie it in place against the tree to prevent the ladder from slipping and falling while you work.
  • Use your reciprocating saw to cut off upper branches.
  • Use a rope to safely lower large branches.

When cutting large branches that may fall and damage your house, tie a rope around the branch. Then, wrap the other end around another tree trunk, at ground level. With assistance from 1 or more other workers, unwrap the rope around the tree trunk and slowly lower the large branch to the ground. Remember to never wrap the rope around your hand or fingers when lowering a branch. A rope pulled tight around your fingers by the weight of a branch can cause serious injury.

Fell the Trunk

Now that the tree has been de-limbed, you’ll be left with just the trunk standing in your yard. In order to take down the trunk:

  • Use the chainsaw to cut a right-angle notch in the tree trunk, in the direction you want it to fall.
  • The notch should be deep enough that it is 1/4–1/3 through the tree’s diameter.
  • Ensure all people and obstacles are clear from the path of the falling tree.
  • Use the chainsaw to cut through the tree from the opposite side, toward the notch.
  • Remain clear of the tree’s fall path at all times. Establish exit routes and remain alert while cutting.
  • If the trunk is too tall to safely fell in one piece, cut it into sections. Climb your ladder to notch and cut the trunk at a point 10 feet above the ground. You can safely fell a tree trunk in two pieces this way.

If you have an assistant, attach a rope to the top of the tree trunk. As you are making your felling cut, your helper should haul on the rope to help direct the tree’s falling path. Ensure that your assistant is safely out of the tree’s fall zone when doing so. Make sure they stand back at a distance twice the height of the tree to prevent injury.

Cut Stump at Ground Level

Now that the tree is felled, use your chainsaw to cut the stump at or near ground level. Attempting to remove a stump and root system can be difficult work. If the stump isn’t causing any harm where it is, simply treat it with a stump killer and allow it to decay in place.

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  • With your chainsaw, cut the stump flush with the ground.
  • Treat the stump with stump killer to prevent the tree from resprouting.

Stump killer will prevent the felled tree from attempting to resprout from the stump, saving you future work.

Cut the Tree Into Sections

Cutting a felled tree into sections near a house

Now that your tree is on the ground, use your chainsaw to cut the trunk and limb into sections. Forearm length sections are easy to dispose of or use for firewood.

  • Use the chainsaw to cut the tree trunk and limbs into forearm-length sections.
  • These sections can be disposed of or split for firewood.
  • If you have no need for firewood, advertise free firewood on Craigslist or a neighborhood app.

While you might not need to use the tree for firewood, your neighbors may. Advertising free firewood on Craigslist is a great way to get rid of a felled tree at no cost. Most people will be happy to load and haul away a sectioned tree, essentially cleaning up your yard for you.

How to Remove a Large Tree Near Your House

Tree removal near houses requires taking proper safety precautions and following steps to ensure the removal process goes smoothly. In order to get rid of a tree that is over 20 feet tall near your house:

  • Clear the area of vehicles and items that may be damaged by falling branches or trunk sections.
  • Use a chainsaw and employ the 3 cut method to safely remove large lower branches.
  • Use a reciprocating saw to remove upper branches.
  • Notch your tree in the direction you want it to fall. Then, cut from the opposite side, toward the notch, to fell it.
  • Cut the stump flush with the ground and treat it with a stump killer.
  • Saw felled trunk and branches into forearm-length sections for firewood or disposal.

These steps ensure the safe and efficient removal of an entire tree. By using ropes to secure branches before cutting, you can lower them slowly to the ground, preventing falling branches from damaging your home.

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