If you're ready to get rid of that big, unsightly tree on your property, your first thought might be to call someone and pay them to do it and take away all of the debris. However, that could be hugely expensive, and there's a more hands-on alternative - doing it yourself.

Check out our Large Tree Removal how to video below.

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Cutting down large trees on your property might seem an insurmountable task at first, but with the right tools you can easily and safely do it yourself.

In this post, we’ll tell you what to do in order to bring down a large tree using elevated access.  If you have a smaller tree to lop, view our Small Tree Removal guide here.

Getting started

To successfully remove a large tree from your property, you'll need a range of tools.  The tools you'll need to use for any large lopping include:

Step 1: Safety First!

You'll need to prepare the work site to ensure nothing gets in the way of falling branches or flying debris. Cordon off an area with a piece of rope or some cones, tell your family members they can't come up to you when any of the machines are on, and make sure they don't stand where any branches could fall.

Further, you must wear the right safety gear. Start with a full-length shirt, pants and jacket for when you're up high on the cherry picker. Eye protection with safety glasses is vital, and ear plugs will help prevent permanent hearing damage. A hard hat, gloves and dust mask should be worn at all times while machines are in operation.

Step 2: Removing branches

The first part of lopping a large tree is to use a cherry picker to move up the trunk and take off all of the branches with a small chainsaw. Position the cherry picker under the tree so you can ascend safely and still reach out to cut branches off. Make sure the cherry picker is on solid ground, with the area as level as possible.

The cherry picker controls are easy to use so you can position yourself safely next to the tree.

The cherry picker will give you access to take off branches near the top of the tree before bringing down the trunk. Once you're in the cage, hook the harness onto the frame so you're secured before elevating yourself. Use the control panel to move yourself into position under the branches so you can get clean cuts and let them fall safely to the ground. The cherry picker will move slowly, so there's no risk of you swinging around out of control. As you move up the tree in the cherry picker, you can remove branches using the small chainsaw.

Use the small chainsaw to cut the branches you can easily reach from the cherry picker bucket. Test the chainsaw on the ground before you strap yourself into the cage and make sure it's working properly.

Cut straight through the branches at the top of the tree so they fall straight down into the safe cordoned area below. Once you've lopped what you can with the small chainsaw, go back to ground level and swap it for the pole pruner. This will give you more reach at the top of the tree so you can remove more of the smaller branches. Fewer branches means less impact on the ground when the tree falls.

Both the small and large chainsaw can be used at height and back on the ground as well. Make sure to always cut away from your body, so you're never pulling the chainsaw toward you through the wood. If you're cutting low, ensure the chain is not in contact with the ground, as this will damage the tool. 

The pole pruner allows you to get more reach from the cherry picker so you can get to those higher branches.

For harder to reach branches, use the pruner pole to cut these down.  Test the pole pruner before going back up in the cherry picker. In the same way as you used the small chainsaw, cut through the branches so they fall straight down.


Step 3: Taking down the Trunk

Once you've removed the branches, you can cut through the trunk so the whole tree falls. If you don't have enough room on your property for the tree to fall at once, cut it in smaller parts with the large chainsaw - start up high and remove the top first, then move down until the whole tree has fallen. To lop the tree, make a wedge cut in the trunk. The tree will fall in the direction of the wedge when you make a second hinge cut directly behind it.

Cut the trunk into square pieces with the large chainsaw.

After the whole trunk is down, cut it into smaller, straight pieces with the large chainsaw so that the wood can be split. For the best cut, saw through 80 per cent of the wood, turn it over and finish the remaining 20 per cent from the other side.

Step 4: Using a Log Splitter

Once you’ve brought down the tree, You may find you have a lot of excess branches you need to get rid of.  You can use a chipper to turn any of these branches into mulch for your garden.  

The log splitter helps to make the larger parts of the tree easier to deal with by breaking them in half - it's a very powerful machine and should only be operated by someone who knows how to use it.  The branch will be able to give you instructions on how to operate this.

The log splitter will make the square trunk pieces more manageable.

Load the square pieces of trunk into the log splitter using the lift mechanism.  Position the logs directly under the hydraulic blade and watch as they split apart easily.  Use the splitter to cut the wood in half and then in half again to each piece is a manageable size.  For more information on how to use a log splitter, read our how-to guide here.

When you're planning to lop a large tree on your property, give the team at Kennards Hire a call and explain your project. We'll be able to tell you how to operate a log splitter in Australia or New Zealand on your large tree removal so you aren't just guessing. For more information, get in touch today.