How to Fell a Tree Against the Lean?

So, you have a tree that you want to cut, but it is leaning the opposite direction from where you want it to fall. Well, this is called back lean. Luckily for you, you are in the right place to learn how to deal with this problem. There are a few techniques that you can use to fell a tree against the lean. In this article, we are going to go over them. Read on to learn everything you need to know on how to fell a tree against the lean.

How to Fell a Tree Against the Lean

How to Fell a Tree Against the Lean

Why Fell a Tree Against the Lean

First, though you may be wondering why you would fell a tree against the lean. It is a lot easier to fell a tree with the lean, so you may not know the reason to not do it that way. Well, the main reason is if there is something in the way that the tree will land on. Trees are massive and will crush stuff if they fall on something, so sometimes the only open space for the tree to fall in an area that is against the lean. This reason is why you might have to fell a tree against the lean and why it is important to know how if you ever have to.

Method 1

There are a few methods on how you can fell a tree against the lean. We are going to start with the easiest one first and then move to harder ones. The easiest method is not the cheapest method, however. The best way to fell a tree against a lean when it comes to making it fast and easy is to use heavy machinery. You can use a tractor, or bulldozer for this method. This method is best for smaller trees, but can be used for larger ones.

For smaller trees to use heavy machinery to take them down all you have to do is drive up to the tree and push midway up. If the machine is strong enough, then you can just push the tree right over. For some trees, you might end up breaking it halfway up though where the trunk gets thinner. To prevent this you can cut a notch into the bottom on the side that you want the tree to fall. Depending on the size of the tree will dictate how big the notch has to be. This notch will make weakness and cause the tree to snap there with pushing.

The heavy equipment method may not be the best way for everyone though. That is because if you don’t have access to machines, then they can be costly. Don’t worry though, there is a way to take down a tree against the lean with just your standard power tools.

What you need

So, what exactly will you need to take down a tree with a more affordable method than heavy machines? Well, you will need a saw, some wedges, and a helper or two. Also, safety gear such as goggles, and gloves are recommended, but not must-haves.

Method 2

So, now that you know what you need to fell a tree against the lean in a more affordable method we can get into details on how to do it. To get a tree to fall in the opposite direction of the lean, you will have to support it as you cut it. You are going to make the tree straight and reverse the lean with wedges and shims. To do this you will first have to calculate how much back, lean you will have to compensate for. This math is pretty simple.

The math required is not that hard. You will stand away from the tree and use a weighted string or ax as a plumb sight up to the tree at a 90-degree angle. Then note the position on the ground where the ax or string lies. The back lean is the distance from the noted point on the ground following a line along the intended direction of fall to the apex of the planned undercut. The apex is very important because it will be the hinge as well as the pivot point for the falling tree. In other words, the weight of the tree has to go over this point before it will fall.

After determining this line you will also have to find the diameter of the stump. This is easy to find. All you have to do is measure from the front of the hinge to the back edge of the tree. In other words, measure halfway around the tree. You use the stump diameter to determine how many segments are in the tree. A segment of a tree is equal to the trunks diameter. This means if the diameter of the tree is five feet and the tree is 50 feet tall, then it will have ten segments.

The number of segments is important because the effect of moving the tree up moves the top part forward a lot more than the bottom part. Using the 50-foot tree, if you move the bottom segment up 1 inch, it will move the tree forward 1 inch, but this moves the top segment 10 inches. That is a dramatic change and makes it so even a tree with a large back, lean doesn’t have to be moved up a whole lot. To overcome a two-foot back, lean with this example, you would have to lift the tree only about two and a quarter inches. One important thing though is you can’t forget to include the width of the saw into the lift calculation. A saw is 3/8 in thick, so you have to raise the tree that additional amount with the wedge.

So, how do you use this method to fell the tree? Well, first you cut a notch into the tree at the apex or hinge. Then you cut a notch out of the backside of the tree. The backside is the side it is leaning towards. Cut discs about a ½-inch in thickness from hardwood branches for the shims. Don’t taper them as this will make them weak. Use two wedges, side by side and hammer one in so there is a gap between it and the trunk of the tree. Place a shim in this gap till it is tight. Then drive the shim in by pounding the wedge. This will either fell the tree or cause the other wedge to come loose. If the wedge comes loose before the tree falls, then add a bigger shim in. Continue this process until gravity takes over and fells the tree.


So, as you can see this second method for felling a tree against the lean does take more work than the first, but it is a lot more cost-effective than the first if you don’t have heavy machinery available. Big machines are nice because they can just push the tree over, but you can do it the old fashion way with physical labor. Felling a tree against the lean isn’t hard when you know what you are doing. Luckily for you, you now know what is required to fell a tree against the lean, so if you have a tree that you need to take down that is leaning the wrong way, then you can do it.

Tom Chandler

"When your hands hit the floor, they get cut up. When mine hit the floor, they slide with ease"

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