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What is Tree Felling?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

Tree felling is a forestry term. It refers to the process of cutting down a tree. This is often made to seem easier than it really is. Tree felling can be a very dangerous task, which can result in serious injury or death. Many people realize this and choose to leave this work to professionals.

Tree felling is commonly performed with a chainsaw. This machine's cutting ability is made possible by a rotating chain. The use of such a machine is one of the reasons why felling a tree can be such a dangerous task.

A man felling a tree.
A man felling a tree.

Cutting one tree can take a lot of work and planning. First, a person must be prepared. He should begin by developing a plan for how a tree will fall. A tree should be cut so when it falls it does not come into contact with anything else, including other trees. To develop a good plan, it can be necessary to consider a number of factors, such as the slope of the ground, the lean of the tree, and the height of the tree.

Tree felling is commonly performed with a chainsaw.
Tree felling is commonly performed with a chainsaw.

There are different techniques that can be employed for tree felling. All trees may not be able to be cut in the same direction. Different types of notches may need to be used. Determining how a tree should be cut may be a matter of professional experience.

Tree felling can also be made dangerous by situations that occur when the tree falls. Such hazards include lodging. Sometimes a tree does not have a clear path to the ground. Instead it may fall and get lodged in another tree or on a structure. This creates a hazard that should not be ignored.

A tree often falls with a great deal of force. This can involve the uncontrolled movement of various types of debris. For example, limbs may break and fly through the air if they come into contact with other things as the tree is falling. This can put the logger or those in the surrounding area at risk.

For these reasons, and due to the risk of other hazards, extreme attention should be paid by everyone who is in the vicinity of tree felling. It is also important that the proper protective gear be worn by all who are in the vicinity. There are many items designed especially for those in the forestry industry, such as protective chaps and steel-toe boots.

Discussion Comments


Thank you so much for writing this article the way you did. So many people think that they can just crank up the chainsaw and take a tree down by themselves, but it can be really dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

My father owned a tree service for years, and even after all the tree felling courses he took and with all the specialized tree felling equipment, he still had some close calls.

So good for you for not making light of arboriculture -- too many people think it's just a matter of brute force, when in reality, there's a lot of training and expertise required.

Nicely done.


@googlefanz -- Believe me, tree surgery is much less expensive than all the real surgery you would need if something went wrong when you felled the tree.

Tree services exist for a reason, and although some of them do overcharge, there's a lot of workmanship that goes into felling a tree.

It's not just like Bugs Bunny, where cartoon characters cut through a tree in a few seconds and then it immediately falls flat. There's a lot of physics and math involved in determining which way the tree is going to fall, and how to cut it appropriately, and how to make sure it doesn't fall on either you or something else, like your house.

I would really, really advise you against taking the tree down by yourself, especially since you already said it's close to your house. That's just a dangerous situation all around, and you simply don't have the proper tree felling equipment to make sure you don't kill yourself or destroy your house.

If you absolutely insist on doing it yourself, at least take a tree felling course or something beforehand -- don't just go out there with the chainsaw. Believe me, you might not live to regret it if you do.


So you would say that chainsaw tree felling is probably not best attempted by an amateur?

I have this big oak tree in my backyard that I'm pretty sure is dead, and I'd love to take it down, since I'm afraid that if there was a big storm or something it could fall on my house.

It is sitting on a flat area, and there are no other trees in the surrounding area -- do you think that it might be possible for me to just take it down myself?

I've looked into some of those tree felling services, but those things can be really expensive! That's why I'm so interested in if it can be done by a regular person.

Do you think if I was very careful, and read up on the subject beforehand that it would be a good idea for me to try and tackle it myself, or do I have to pay for a tree surgeon?

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    • A man felling a tree.
      By: Val Thoermer
      A man felling a tree.
    • Tree felling is commonly performed with a chainsaw.
      By: Kadmy
      Tree felling is commonly performed with a chainsaw.