how to remove a small tree

Whether you want to improve an otherwise weather-worn and tired-looking landscape or simply want a new look for your yard, removing the small tree in your backyard may be the only way to achieve your goal. If calling in a professional for a small tree removal seems like overkill, you can consider taking on the project on your own.

Deciding to take on a small tree removal process on your own is a task that may seem impossible in the beginning. However, with the right tool and DIY guide on how to remove a small tree, you can get it done like a professional.

Here is everything you need to know about removing a small tree DIY project.

How to remove a small tree safely

The trick to safely removing a small tree lies in how well you handle the root system. Even though removing smaller trees is easier compared to larger ones, you must take care of the roots to ensure the tree does not grow back on the spot while ensuring the tree can thrive if you plan to transplant it.

Equipment you may include:

  • A shovel
  • A Saw to cut through any roots you can’t break with your shovel
  • Gardening Gloves to protect your hands
  • Proper protective gear
  • Fill dirt if you have a big hole to fill afterward

Do your research

It is important first to understand that tree removal processes can be dangerous, regardless of the size of the tree. Therefore, it is ideal to consult with a professional if you feel uncertain about undertaking the process yourself.

Before getting to work, it is essential to research the type of tree you want to remove. You also need to ensure that you are within the legal jurisdiction to remove a tree in your yard. Ensure you apply for permits if you need any for the removal process. Once you have everything in order, you can start your DIY project.

Ensure you undertake proper planning

A day before the tree removal process, you need to make the soil around the tree saturated to soften it. The softer the soil, the easier it will be for you to remove it.

When planning the tree removal process, you also need to ensure you have the best protective gear for the project. Some of the most important items you need include a helmet, gloves, goggles, protective clothes like long sleeves shirts and full pants, as well as steel-toe leather shoes.

Clear and block off the area next to the small tree you want to remove. This ensures that people and pets are at a safe distance from the tree. Ideally, you should clear space at least double the tree size.

You also need to determine which side you want the tree to fall on. For example, if the tree leans on the left side, it is wise to cut it towards the left side. Determining which side the tree will fall on helps determine the best way to cut it down.

While determining the side it will fall, you also need to have a plan in place in case the tree falls on the opposite side. Ensure you properly mark out your escape route to ensure you will not be in harm’s way should the tree decide to fall on the unexpected side. Going over all worst-case scenarios before beginning the tree removal process will ensure you undertake the project safely.

Remain cautious and start your DIY project

It is important to have an emergency plan in case of the unexpected. Once you have all the necessary planning, you can begin the tree felling process.

Make an angled cut

The first step is making an angled cut on the side of the tree, maintaining a 70-degree angle in the direction the tree is supposed to fall. Cut through the tree using an ax or saw to a quarter diameter inside the tree’s circumference. The portion of the removed part should look like a slanted letter L.

Make a horizontal cut on the opposite side

The next step is cutting the tree horizontally from the opposite side. The cut is supposed to align with the lower part of the L cut made earlier. Make sure your cut is as straight as possible without cutting all the way through the tree. Leave a tenth of the diameter intact, as this gives you better control over the side the tree falls on.

Take your escape route

Once the two cuts are made, and the tree begins to fall, quickly take your exit route and wait until the tree completely falls before returning to the site. Should the tree fail to fall on its own, you can approach it slowly and give it a slight push in the direction it is meant to fall once again leave the area. The tree should successfully fall.

Remove the stamp

Now that the tree has fallen, you also need to get rid of the unsightly stamp it leaves behind. You can do this by digging around the stump and roots using a shovel or stump grinder. Eventually, the bottom part of the tree will become visible and can be uprooted from the ground.

When removing a damaged tree, it is important to get rid of the root ball too. This will ensure the tree does not sprout again. The tree diameter can be used to determine how much digging you need to do to remove the root ball.

As a rule of thumb, you should dig 9 to 12-inch diameter and 6-inch depth for every inch of the tree diameter. A spade is a good tool to use to break the soil. Securely plant the space inside the ground and slide it under the root ball, lifting it up and out of the ground. You can remove all remaining roots using a saw or spade.

Cleaning up

Once the tree, stump, and roots are completely removed, you should ensure you undertake proper disposal. This is especially important if you remove a sick or damaged tree, as leaving the stump on the site may be hazardous for the other plants. Also, tree debris is a perfect breeding ground for insects and rodents.

You can fill out the hole left on the ground with the filler dirt, as leaving it open can be dangerous.

There you have it. The above step-by-step DIY guide on how to remove a small tree will ensure you do so safely and successfully.

Get your tree cut