Most homeowners know very little about the tree removal process and what it takes to safely remove a tree. There are an infinite number of variables that come into play during the tree removal procedure. Every tree is unique and requires a different approach. There are various methods of tree removal that utilize different equipment and techniques. The following methods are the most common techniques used when removing trees.

Felling the Entire Tree:

This is the simplest and most efficient process for getting the tree onto the ground. The first step is to estimate the tree’s height. After the tree’s height is determined the cutter will survey the area to see if there is enough room to safely drop the tree. In most urban settings there is not enough room to safely drop the entire tree and the tree must be taken apart in sections.

If there is enough room, the cutter will judge the lean of the tree. He will check for symmetry to see if there is more weight on one side or the other, and look for any defects in the trunk such as cavities or rot that could cause the notch to prematurely give way. All of this will tell the tree cutter what type of notch to use and where to put it. Before a notch is cut in the tree, a rope will oftentimes be tied to the top of it.


This will allow the tree removal crew to guide the tree in the desired direction. Once the tree is evaluated and the rope is set the cutting process will begin. A notch also known as a wedge will be cut to help direct the tree where to go. The final cut is also known as the back cut. When cutting the back cut the direction of the fall is able to be changed by cutting more or less of one side. The wood that is left between the back cut and the wedge is the hinge wood. Hinge wood holds the falling tree for a brief second and pulls it to the direction with more hinge wood.

Climbing or Aerial Lift:

This method is most commonly used for removing trees that are close to structures, power lines and other obstacles. Like any other tree removal process it starts with evaluating the tree and formulating a plan for removal. A good tree climber will dismantle the entire tree in their mind before they ever touch it.

The most important part about planning the tree removal is finding a central point to set your rigging from. Once the rigging has been set in place the climber will cut and lower all necessary limbs. After all of the limbs have been removed and only the trunk remains he will cut the trunk into the desired lengths. Sometimes these pieces will be cut and dropped to the ground. If there is not enough room to simply drop the pieces they will be lowered with ropes.

A climber must know which direction to notch and the cut limbs and logs so they swing only the desired direction and distance. Skilled grounds personnel are as important as the climber. They must be able to properly guide the limb when it is cut free. Once the limb is severed the rope man will allow it to freefall for a brief moment and then gradually decrease the descent of the limb. This will reduce the static load that is placed on the rigging point. There is always a specific landing zone for the branches and logs to be roped into. Sometimes the landing is directly below the rigging point and simply lowering it is sufficient. But occasionally landing areas can be 20-30 feet from the rig point.

The rope man has to time the swing rate and descent speed accurately to hit his target. If the ground man holds the rope one second to long or to little it could have serious consequences. Property damage, personal injury and even death. Never let an untrained person climb person climb or cut a tree for you.

Crane Lift:

Tree Removal Crane
Crane removals are by far the most costly type of removals, but are required in select cases where climbing and dropping limbs is too dangerous, or simply not possible.  This tree removal process starts by finding a place to set the crane up. This is usually discussed with the property owner during the estimating process. This place must have enough room to accommodate the 18x 24 foot footprint of the outriggers and be somewhat level. It must also be within the safe operating radius of the trees. The size of the tree to be removed plays a role in determining the safe operating radius.

Height usually isn’t the main concern though –  its distance, the farther you reach away from the crane the less you can pick up. As a rule of thumb, our general operating radius is within 90 ft. Once the crane is set up and leveled, the operator will telescope the boom out and put it in place over the tree that is to be removed. The crane ball will then be lowered to the climber who is waiting at the base of the tree. He will tie his safety line in and be hoisted to the top of the tree. Once he has reached the top of the tree he will attach the cable and instruct the operator to apply tension. He will then repel down his rope to the predetermined cut area. Once he is tied in he makes the cut.

The crane operator lifts the cut section off of the tree and swings it to the landing zone. Once in the landing zone the ground crew will disconnect the cable so the crane operator and climber can make the next pick. This process is repeated until the entire tree has been removed.

Ground operations and debris removal

Above are three methods of getting the tree on the ground, but we haven’t yet addressed what happens once it is there. When it hits the ground is when the real work begins. Our ground operations specialists have been compared to angry termites with chainsaws and beavers on steroids. They have been known to dismantle entire pine trees in seconds. These guys really know what to do when the wood hits the ground.

Everything that we cut and remove is re-used. The ground crew will instinctively cut everything to spec so that it can be loaded for hauling away. All limbs, branches and small logs will be hauled away, later ran through the wood chipper and turned into usable mulch. All wood otherwise will be cut into log lengths. These logs will turned into firewood and typically given away to area residents in need.

Once all of the large pieces of the tree have been removed the crew will then rake and blow the yard. We always strive to leave your yard cleaner than when we arrived.