A powerful storm can make quick work of even the strongest and healthiest trees, tossing them around as though they were mere twigs. But when faced with a downed tree in their front yard, many homeowners make the mistake of trying to cut up and clear these trees themselves.
This is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but four are particularly noteworthy:
1. Chainsaws Are Dangerous Tools in Even the Best Circumstances
Many people fail to understand exactly how dangerous chainsaws are in untrained hands. Accidents involving them are unfortunately common, and they often inflict life-changing injuries.
“Kickback” is one of the most common and serious problems that occur with chainsaws. It happens when the upper tip of the chainsaw bar contacts a stationary object. This causes the bar to jump back violently, often sending the bar right into the victim’s face. Leg wounds are also quite common, and they can be fatal if the femoral artery suffers damage in the process.
Professionals wear a variety of protective garments and accessories to help protect them from injuries, and most have been trained in the proper operation of the tool.
2. Downed Trees Often Snap Back Violently When the Load Changes
Large trees are unthinkably heavy — a fact that escapes many amateur tree-cutters. This means that they impart great stresses on the branches holding them up after a fall. When a branch or section of the tree is cut, it changes the weight distribution quickly, which can cause the tree to roll or spring up with great force. In a worst-case scenario, this can cause the tree to roll onto you, trapping you beneath it.
Accordingly, it is always wise to contact professionals whenever you need to cut and move a large tree. Although the ways in which trees move after being cut can seem mysterious to non-professionals, experienced arborists are often capable of predicting the exact way in which a fallen tree will react when it is cut.
3. Many Amateur Tree-Cutters Get Their Chainsaw Stuck While Cutting Downed Trees
You can get your chainsaw stuck while cutting down a standing tree, but it is even easier to make such a mistake when cutting a fallen tree. A tree that is laying horizontally and supported by a large number of branches are often balanced in counterintuitive ways, which can cause a chainsaw to become “pinched” by two different segments of the tree. If you find yourself in this predicament, you’ll likely end up having to call a professional arborist to complete the job, and you’ll probably ruin your chainsaw in the process.
Professional arborists avoid this problem by relying on their years of experience, understanding of fallen-tree physics and training in the proper use of chainsaws. Fallen trees require different cutting techniques than standing trees, and they require different precautions while being dismantled too.
4. You Still Have to Deal with the Cut Wood
Many homeowners fail to consider the amount of wood that is contained in big trees, and the difficulty they’ll often encounter when trying to dispose of it properly. Cut wood can represent a fire hazard, it provides food and habitat for pests and it is quite an eyesore. You may be able to burn a little bit of it in your fireplace or during the odd bonfire, and you may be able to sell a little bit, but you’ll probably be left with more than you originally imagined possible.
Ultimately, you’ll feel this in your wallet, as you’ll find it necessary to pay to have the wood hauled away, or you’ll need to rent a wood chipper for the day to convert it into mulch. And while mulch is certainly a valuable resource, that will help support your trees, it is probably cheaper – and definitely easier — to just buy it in pre-shredded form.
As you can see, cutting up downed trees may look simple at first, but it is actually a dangerous and labor-intensive activity that is best left to the professionals. The next time you lose a tree in a storm, give your friends at Trav’s Tree Service a call – our arborists will deal with the tree for you, and they may even be able to explain why it failed in the first place.