better outdoor living at home spring

A Large Shade Tree Gets Cut Down

Last week I had to have a large shade tree cut down in the front yard. It was a pretty nice tree, and had become a familiar part of the yard, so it was sort of sad to see it go.

Several ash trees in the neighborhood had become invaded by the emerald ash borer including this one, and the experts said it would last about another two years. The cost of having a tree company treat it over that time was about the same as having it cut down. So my husband and I decided to have it removed now.



Many homeowners have large trees removed from their yards for various reasons – including overgrowth, storm damage, disease, making room for an addition on the house, or for new a deck or patio.

This tree had an atypical shape. The main trunk was just under five feet in height, before it spread into two fairly equal size leaders, which gave it a ‘Y’ shape. So with that shape, and the fact that it grew up in the shadow of a very large maple, it grew tall but didn’t have the full canopy an ash tree would typically have.


This photo is looking upward showing the tree’s two main leaders.


The tree company crew arrived early in the morning and staged the work site by strategically locating their three trucks:

  • one truck had a huge crane with a cable and massive hook to secure sections of the tree while it was being cut, and then lowered the cut section to the ground; it also had a long bed to transport the sections that were too large for the chipper to handle. The crane truck was located in the street near the tree.


  • another truck contained equipment, and the bucket lift that held the person who would be up inside the tree doing the cutting. This truck was located in the driveway close to the tree.


  • the last truck was a chip box truck that had the chipper attached in the rear; as the tree parts were fed into the chipper, the chips were directly shot into the chip box of the truck. This truck was positioned in the street in front of the neighbors house right next door.

Chipper is attached to the chip box truck which catches everything!


Before I could take any photos, they had already cut the top off one of the leaders, and had placed the 12” +/- diameter in the large powerful chipper.



We took photos to show you how the tree guys cut the tree down. It really was interesting to watch, and you begin to notice neighbors watching too from their front door or in their yard.

Starting at the top of the tree, they removed the smaller sections and some smaller individual limbs. Since this tree had two very large leaders and not much canopy, most of the cutting was directly on the leaders.


Cutting some smaller branching at the crown of the tree.


The guy in the bucket and the crane operator work together. The bucket is raised so the bucket guy can wrap the cable around branches and trunks and then secures everything before lowering the bucket position to make the cut below. When the cut is completed, the large branches or leaders swing safely away, secured by the crane, and lowered to the ground.


Arrow indicates where the cable is located, as the branch is being cut from below.


Loading the large branch into the chipper –


This is hard work!


The bucket position is about at roof level (1 1/2 story) of my house at this point in the process –



With the crane cable securing the upper section of the remaining leader, the final cut is made –




Cut is completed, and the trunk is lifted from what is now the stump.


The main trunk of the tree (center of photo) is lowered into the long bed of the crane truck.


The larger sections of the leaders and main trunk were too big for the chipper, so they were loaded onto the long bed to be hauled away and reduced in size later.


How Old Was the Tree?

One of the tree guys (the bucket guy) counted 47 rings, for 47 years old; he also pointed out the varying sizes of the ring widths, which he said indicated what type of growing season the tree had in a particular year, such as whether it was a wet or dry season. It was a little lesson in botany!



Next, the stump had to be removed, which was completed a few days later by the same tree company. These guys were great, they swept and cleaned up, and except for the missing tree and the stump, you’d never know they had been there!



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