Lowe's Home Improvement

Cut Down a Tree

Cutting down a tree

Cutting down a tree is something that requires thought and planning. If you’re not experienced, you should consult an expert or a trained professional. Work calmly and carefully.

Preparation Tips

safe retreat

Environmental Regulations

Before cutting (also known as felling) any trees, find out which environmental regulations apply, and make sure you have the necessary permits.

Accident Prevention

When you've decided to fell a tree, think about what you can do to prevent accidents. Are there any roads, overhead lines or buildings nearby? If so, and if you’re a beginner, you should leave the job to someone with more  experience. If the tree is is situated in a high-traffic area, set up warning signs.

Directional Challenges

Assess the tree and take note of various factors that can affect the cutting. Is the tree leaning? Which way is the wind blowing? Consider the surroundings, ease of subsequent work and the direction it should be felled.

Safe Retreat

Clear unruly undergrowth from around the tree. Also, remove branches and other obstacles on the ground. On both sides of the tree, you should be able to walk freely at an angle away from the falling tree, and remain there, at a safe distance.

Limbing, Buttress Roots

limbing, butressing roots

To work efficiently, you might need to limb the lower part of the trunk. The safest way to do this is with a pulling chain, moving from above, downwards. Use the trunk as a shield between you and the saw. Never limb higher than shoulder height.

Directional Cutting

directional felling

The general idea of directional felling is that you first saw a directional notch, which determines which direction the tree will fall. The directional notch can be made in a variety of ways.

  • Stand by the tree and decide exactly which direction you want to fell it in.
  • Choose some feature from the surroundings as a guide.
  • If the tree has buttress roots, it’s a good idea to remove them.
  • Make a top cut into the stem at an angle of about 60 degrees.
  • Saw to a depth of about 20% to 25% of the tree’s diameter.
  • Make a horizontal undercut that meets the top cut.


Saw a horizontal felling cut slightly above the level of the undercut. It’s important that you stop sawing just before you reach the directional notch, leaving a hinge. The hinge guides the tree as it falls. Its width should be 10% of the tree’s diameter or at least 2 centimeters.

Make sure that there are no people within the safety radius, which is at least twice the length of the tree that you plan to cut.

Tree Thickness

How you use the saw when felling is decided in part by the thickness of the tree. First, we’ll look at what you do when the bar is longer than the diameter of the tree.

Working position

Stand with your legs apart, and lean against the tree trunk with your shoulder. To avoid an unnecessarily high stump, make the directional notch low.

Top cut

Hold the saw at the correct angle and sight towards the physical feature in the surroundings that you selected. It should coincide with the felling sights on the top of the saw. Give the saw full throttle and start sawing. From time to time, make sure you’re keeping the correct angle and direction.


Stay in the same position and make the undercut. Remember to meet the top cut exactly.

Felling cut

When it’s time for the felling cut, use either a pushing or a pulling chain. Saw until you have enough room to push in a breaking bar or a cutting wedge. Make sure you don’t touch the breaking bar / cutting wedge with the chain when you continue sawing. Leave a hinge that's as even in thickness as possible. Remove the saw and work the bar / wedge until the tree starts to fall.

Cutting Tools

Cutting tools are used to prevent the tree from falling in the wrong direction or from pinching the blade while sawing. The breaking bar is a cutting tool for smaller trees. For larger trees, a cutting wedge is best.

Directional Notch

When the bar is shorter than the diameter of the trunk, a slightly more complicated felling technique is required. The basic principle is the same as in the previous examples, but as the bar doesn’t reach through the trunk, you have to complete the directional notch from the other side. Make sure that the new cuts meet up with the old ones as closely as possible. If you’re not particularly experienced, consult an expert or a trained professional.

Plunge Cut

What you’re going to do next is called a plunge cut. With full throttle, start by inserting the lower part of the bar nose into the trunk, just behind the intended hinge. Don't touch the tree with the upper part of the bar nose.

When the tip of the saw has moved into the trunk a little bit, turn the saw carefully until it's parallel with the directional notch. Press the bar into the tree. Then, saw away from the hinge a small distance approximately the width of the bar. This will prevent you from sawing into the hinge when you turn the saw around. Now saw carefully around the trunk.

When you’ve passed the middle, insert a cutting wedge. Keep sawing until the bar is parallel with the directional notch on the other side. You might need to hammer in the cutting wedge to get the tree to fall. Sometimes several wedges are required.


If the trunk looks damaged or abnormal, there may be a rot problem. The rot-damaged part of the tree is discolored and feels softer. If there's rot damage, be very careful and preferably get help from an expert or trained professional if you’re not that skilled. As rot weakens the tree, you have to make the hinge much bigger to get the tree to fall safely.

Lodged Trees

Consult an expert or trained professional if the tree gets stuck in another tree on the way down. Don’t leave the tree unattended if you have to call for help.

Felling trees is dangerous and can cause severe injury and death.

Project Information

  • Skill Level: Advanced

*Time and Cost are estimated.