What Are the Different Ways to Remove a Tree?

A man removing a tree.
Tall trees often require a worker in a bucket truck to remove the tree in sections.
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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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While the typical method of removing a tree involves the use of a chainsaw, there are many different variations to the process. Most tall trees require a bucket truck to remove a tree. By lifting a worker high into the air alongside of a tree, the worker can remove a tree in sections. This method eliminates the potential of dropping a full-size tree onto a building, fence or roadway. Another tactic to remove a tree involves climbing the tree and cutting limbs while sitting in the tree.

Often, when a crew arrives at a location to remove a tree, workers find that the tree is towering over a building or a roadway. This creates a problem, because tree limbs cannot be dropped as they are cut without damaging property or creating a hazard. The most practical method to remove a tree in this circumstance is to lower the cut limbs to the ground with a rope. By attaching a rope to the limb, the limb can be cut and guided to the ground, avoiding contact with any structures or traffic. Depending on the location of the hazard, several ropes may be used to direct the cut wood.


While movies depict the dropping of a tree as an entire tree falling to the shout of "Timber!" in reality, this is seldom done. The vast majority of trees are removed from the top down, and then a small limb-free trunk is cut down or tipped over. The smallest branches are trimmed from the larger limbs and sent down to be loaded into a brush chipper. This creates a nice load of wood chips that can be later used as mulch. The larger limbs, now free of the smaller branches, are cut into firewood-length and sent to the ground to be loaded onto a truck or trailer.

The final step to remove a tree is to cut the trunk down. Most trees will be cut several times to get portions of the trunk on the ground safely. To remove a tree, tree cutters must make sure that the tree can be handled once on the ground. Some tree cutters use a skid loader or tractor-based loader bucket to remove a tree—using the loader, the tree trunk is lifted in sections and set on a trailer to be taken away. The final section of tree trunk is cut off close to the ground, and then the property owner can choose to remove the stump at a later time or have the tree cutter remove it by grinding it out with a stump grinder.


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