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5m conifer take down?

Is there a safe way for a new gardener to take down a 5m conifer that's mostly dead and dry except for a little bit of needles at the top metre? It's on the middle of a 2m wide border with narrow paths either side. The conifer isn't a central trunk with everything growing straight out like an Xmas tree. It's got a central trunk but the branches grow out then immediately up such that it kind of looks like a multi trunked tree. Apart from the central trunk from halfway down nothing is growing bigger than your wrist.

I've got pruning saw,  bow saw, geared loppers and 3 in 1 step/straight ladder. Is that enough too safely do it without damaging the garden or a mid garden fence about 2.5m away. There's perennials that are past their prime underneath so not an issue but to one side there's a few large, established bushes I'd not want to damage. Overall I think it's not a high risk tree too take down because you can take a lot of the weight out low down.

I've only ever taken trees down in woods as woodland management with conservation charities.  Those you just saw and let fall,  with the safe technique of a directional cut to direct it, etc.

We tried to get a tree surgeon in for this and a few other things but they keep promising to visit to quote but then never coming and ignoring our emails and calls. It's the same with all the local ones. They were simply too much into their big jobs when it was still OK to do this work earlier in the year. Now we're looking at doing what we can. 

Any suggestions? If it's not safe with this kit what kit is it best to buy? Perhaps a pole saw?


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,836
    I've taken down a 8 metre conifer with just a bowsaw. Work your way up the trunk taking off branches as you go with a combination of bowsaw and loppers then saw off chunks of trunk on the way back down. That keeps the weight of all sections you cut to a manageable level and minimises damage.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,966
    I have taken down a tall multi-stemmed cypress and just took out small sections bit by bit with loppers and a saw. The right tools for the job will help. Do it over a long period and take great care where using ladders. Getting friends to help will be useful. I made a wood stack in the garden with the pieces.
  • ErgatesErgates Posts: 2,899
    We’ve taken down some very large conifers, but only those where we have had room for them to fall. Luckily we have a very large garden. OH uses his chain saw. One trick we found helpful was getting a rope around a higher bit of the trunk and using that,( from a long way away!) to make sure that it was heading down in the planned direction. Only works in the short period when the top starts to slightly move before the final cut that gives it the direction to fall. ( did that make sense?)
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,298
    If you are intending removing the stump, then leave a good length of stem to use as a lever. Conifers are shallower rooted than deciduous trees so rocking a stump back and forth snaps smaller roots and shows up the thicker ones which need cutting. The ones we removed from here were not as tall as that, but were mulitstemmed ones and doing it the way people have advised we managed it between us two 70 year olds.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,837
    I'd agree with @Palustris. Unless you intend leaving the stump, or can get a stump grinder in, the lever makes it easier to get it out. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ErgatesErgates Posts: 2,899
    A mattock will come in really useful for loosening soil round the roots. We’ve removed some major roots, over 3 feet across, after taking down unwanted conifers.
  • Got a mattocks for another conifer stump I posted about. Small trunk led to a metre diameter wooden block below the soil surface then the large roots mostly straight down. No length of stump would have allowed the lever to work on that. I hope this isn't like that one. I'll leave it up dead if I knew that.

    We've got a decent sized garden but it's established and well planted.  Can't topple it in one. The way to topple it in a straight fall is appropriately placed notch cut on fall side the cut through slightly above on the other side.  Oh and have your escape route clear. I've toppled many a 20 to 30 year old birch and other species in the woods with BTCV in my youth.  Nothing more than bow saw. Although male newbies always grabbed the large felling axes first.  By first brew they were asking for a bow saw. 

    Precision felling is what I want here. I'm not even sure I could get the ladder in.  Whilst I'm 2m tall that's still going to leave a bit of weight on the top. 
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,952
    Shouldn't be too much of a problem.  If you can get up about 1 1/2 to 2 metres from the ground you will be able to reach to take the top out and then work down in smallish chunks.  Leave at least one strong section of trunk about a metre of so high to use for leverage when chopping the roots away.
  • I've been chopping branches down above my head before taking the heavier lower section out. I ended up with a lot of lichen, moss and dead bark down my neck. Think I need safety glasses too! Think we might get a pole saw.  We've got loads of trees and I think a few need their crowns lifting. A nice copper beech with lower branches with green leaves not wholly red. Cutting those lower branches out would open up more garden up there for planting. Just too high to cut out from the ground without a pole saw I think.  Are they any good? What about those cheaper ones with a hook and lopper action  with rope control plus a pruning saw blade on the end of a telescopic pole? 
  • "those cheaper ones with a hook and lopper action  with rope control plus a pruning saw blade on the end of a telescopic pole?"
    I've got one from Lidl - it works well on 5 metre multistem conifers - I can take off pieces at a time to safely reduce it.
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