The Dangers of Tree Removal

Tree care work in general is hazardous, but tree removal is especially dangerous. Successfully felling a tree requires knowledge of tree physics, biology, dangerous tools, advanced cutting techniques, and more. Homeowners who attempt their own tree removal may be injured by falling limbs, malfunctioning equipment, or the tree itself.

Common tree removal risks include:

  • Power lines. Working near power lines is risky, and you should always assume that the wires are live. If you, your tools, or the tree hits a power line, you may knock out the power in your neighborhood – if you’re lucky. Most likely, you will be electrocuted. Another myth homeowners may believe about power lines is that the black coating on them is insulation. This is not true. The black coating on power lines is weather-proofing for the metal cable. You can still get electrocuted through the weather-proofing.
  • Improper equipment. OSHA requires tree removal professionals to wear protective gear from head to toe. Tree care professionals are also trained in using equipment such as chain saws, ropes, cranes, and wood chippers to safely fell and dispose of a tree. Homeowners would need all of this equipment – and the requisite expertise – to perform a successful and safe removal.  Without it, they expose themselves to unnecessary risk.
  • Decaying wood. A dead or dying tree is often decaying from the inside out, making it extremely unstable. Even professionals sometimes use cranes to remove such deadwood. If you think your tree is starting to decay, find a professional to remove it before it collapses without warning. There are critical tree biology processes to understand when removing decayed trees, so professional help is always necessary.
  • Gravity. Once the tree starts falling, you have no control over where it goes. It also may not fall the way you expect it to, even if you try to influence it with carefully cut indentations or ropes. Poor judgment could result in the tree falling on homes, power lines, or people.

In short, homeowners should never attempt their own tree removal. It isn’t worth the risk, and will likely cause more problems than it solves.

If you have a tree that needs to be removed, click here to find qualified tree care in your area. A professional arborist will be able to determine the best way to safely remove your tree.

80 Comments on The Dangers of Tree Removal

  1. This is such a good article to read. As a tree service business owner I know how hard it can be to simply remove the tree sometimes. After all, just because a task is simple doesn’t mean its easy. The danger of getting close to power lines is a reality for a lot of people that live near or in the forest. These people should read this article because it might convince them to let a professional do it or just to learn more themselves.

  2. Thanks for bringing to my attention that working with trees near power lines can be dangerous. I have a large apple tree in my front yard, and it’s directly underneath some power lines. It has some large dead branches, and I’m worried that the tree will fall and damage something, so I want to take it down. Perhaps it would be best to leave it to a professional so I know it gets removed safely.

  3. I love the last comment! I bet a lot more people would love to have their stump turned into a work of art, if that was something the local tree service offered after removing the tree. But then is it cost effective, and how many arborists are also artists that can do that kind of work?

  4. Hi, thanks for the above tips, its only when you really consider the above reasons why we should do a DIY job, you really realise why we need experts, I know as well as the rest of us, there are always jobs around the house and garden you want to do yourself especially trees, and one can always argue why we should but your dangers point the obvious which is good to remind us and we do forget, some jobs like tree removal are too dam dangerous to so no matter what, call an expert, the risk is too high and i’m sure my opinion is loaded with bias but I’d give this advice to myself.

  5. I could not agree more! Tree removal can be very dangerous and should be left to professionals who know what they are doing. My husband wanted to remove a tree in our yard after a storm had damaged it but I finally convinced him to call a service. They knew what they were doing and had the proper equipment and they still had a difficult time removing it. Doing it yourself is definitely not worth the risk.

  6. Wow, hello JK’ers! This blog comments are flooded with us.

    I’m gonna comment something differently. What do you guys do after you remove the tree? My tree guy made a art work right out of it. A giant gnome, pretty cool idea. It’s something that tree company can offer as an added on service.

  7. There are some trees in my yard that I would like to have removed, but we live really close to power lines. My husband wanted to remove them himself, but the trees are so tall and close to the power lines that I worry it will become a dangerous hazard. I like how you mention that if your tools or trees hit the power lines, you may knock out the power in your neighborhood. I don’t think our neighbors will be too happy with us if we did that, so I’ll make sure we call a professional to remove the trees since they’ll know how to avoid the lines.

  8. Removing your own trees is very dangerous, don’t try to do it yourself unless you have a huge open area so you won’t hit the house the powerlines or other trees. We had a guy down here in Florida electrocute himself when the tree he was cutting hit a power line. Be safe and hire a pro.

  9. You know those funny videos that you see on YouTube of people cutting down trees and then they fall over on a nearby house……. well when it’s your house, or worse yet, a client’s house, it’s not so funny.
    Taking proper safety precautions is not a game, and worth every minute of planning. Be sure to hire a professional if you’re a resident needing a tree removed, especially if within 20-50 ft of any homes.

  10. “Most likely, you will be electrocuted.” Oh you bet. Safety first people! Thanks for sharing :)

  11. There is a tree in my yard that I am afraid may need to be removed, so I am trying to educate myself more. I definitely do not have the necessary equipment. How should I go about selecting a reliable tree removal service?

  12. I’m down here in Southern Louisiana and we’re dealing with the flooding. Now that the water is receding, we’ve been getting lots of call about broken trees needing to be removed. Just one more added danger… soaking wet ground that makes everything less stable. Only doing emergency work right now till it dries more.

  13. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that power lines can make tree removal dangerous. My apple tree is dead, and I want to have it removed before it collapses and injures someone. There are some power lines right above it, so I’ll definitely look into having a professional come for removal so it’s done safely. Thanks for the great post!

  14. Kendall Everett // July 21, 2016 at 6:53 pm // Reply

    Deciding which direction you want the tree to fall is a good idea. Planning the tree cutting before you begin will ensure the tree falls in a safe direction. Making sure both sides of the tree are clear just in case would be a good idea.

  15. Yes it is very dangerous! this is a definite must read. Just the other week here we had strong winds and someone was cutting a tree down to prevent more damages however was killed by a fallen tree.

  16. Find out how bad it would be if woods you tried to remove took down power lines? Less complicated in more than a little bit of trouble. That would be a massive fine.

  17. Every DIY tree trimmer should read this before going to town and making a dangerous thing. It’s not super easy to make this safe, even for professionals. Tree removal is risky and takes some experience.

  18. The two most interesting but also challenging points are the decay and Gravity. And I guess both you dont know the true outcome until the tree is down, decay is hard to plan for especially on the internal trunk of the tree and Gravity is never a logical thing when it comes to felling a tree, its always a best guess of which one can get better at but the final say is always with the tree I guess.

    Jeff Smith

  19. Thanks for this helpful post on the dangers of tree removal. I am probably going to need a few trees taken out of my backyard, and I don’t think I should do them on my own after reading this. I didn’t know that there is a possibility of my trees decaying from the inside out. I will be sure to hire a professional company to come take care of my trees. Thanks for the help!

  20. I didn’t know doing your own tree removal could be so risky. I have a rather large tree in my back yard that is fairly invasive that we want to get rid of. We were thinking of doing it ourselves but I’m willing to bet that there is some decaying wood in there since the tree is not in the best health. Thank you for a potentially life saving warning.

  21. We do tree services in the North County San Diego area and with prices for things being a bit higher in this area so many of our clients attempt tree removal on their own, it’s crazy. We try to stress the importance of hiring a professional with experience especially due to the inherent dangers associated with any type of tree care. Great article and thanks for the information!

  22. There’s a great big tree in my yard that’s sadly starting to decay. I feel like all it’d take is one big wind storm to bring it down. The bad part is that it’s come down to my house. I don’t think my insurance covers that, so I need to get it removed. I’ll hopefully be able to find a professional before it decides to come down.

  23. It is interesting for me to learn a little bit about the dangers of tree repair. I think that it is important to be able to be as safe as possible when removing a tree. This article helps me understand what to look out for.

  24. This was a great article. A lot of people don’t think much about how dangerous trees can be. We recently used to clear out a few trees from our yard. They had so much equipment and guys climbing trees. We never would have been able to do all that safely.

  25. Maintaining trees can be a tricky thing to do. It I like that you pointed out that you need to be on the look out for decay in the limbs. It might be smart to hire a tree service to come remove any dead tree branches.

  26. Tyler Meredith // January 18, 2016 at 10:39 pm // Reply

    I like what this article mentions about decaying wood, and how it is usually not visible. I few of the branches on one of my trees have fallen off, and I am worried about the strength of the actual trunk. I think having a tree removal service come and look at it to make sure it wont fall is definitely a must.

  27. Last year a friend of mine’s dad was cutting a tree down in his yard, and his buddy was helping and had a large limb fall on him and it killed him. My friends dad is really having a difficult time dealing with it, I can’t imagine what he is going through. So I completely agree – let the professionals do it, it is not worth the risk!

  28. Improper equipment is a huge problem for me, I have tried removing trees in the past and I just did not have the means to do it. This is a huge reason for me to say hiring a professional is the way to go for tree trimming and tree removal service. Thanks for the tips and warnings on tree removal!

  29. I have this huge tree in my front yard that I need to get rid of, but I’m not sure what I need to do to get rid of it properly. That being said, I really appreciate you sharing with me some insight about some of the dangers that can come with tree removal. After reading these, I definitely think I need to hire someone to come and remove it for me. Doing this, it would make sure the tree gets removed right, and I’m safe. Thanks a ton for sharing this with me!

  30. I didn’t realize that OSHA had tree removal workers wear protective gear from head to toe. I figured it was probably a dangerous job though. A friend of mine had to take down a tree of his a few months back. They used a chainsaw. It took a while to figure out how to control the direction the tree was to fall, but eventually we just tied a rope to his truck and pulled when the chainsaw started cutting at the trunk. I’ll have to show this to him. Thanks again!

  31. I did not realize that tree removal was so dangerous. This article really allows me to be safer than I would have been. We are going to try to remove a large tree that is pretty much dead from my backyard.

  32. Great article. I did not realize that there were so many dangers to removing trees. However, I feel like proper care is so important. Thanks for the safety tips on how to remove the trees.

  33. I really appreciate this information on how to be safe during tree removal. I didn’t realize until reading this that decaying wood on trees could be such a hazard. I bet that it would be a lot more safe to hire a professional to help with these kinds of services. Thanks for the information!

  34. There’s a tree that sits on the edge of my lawn, that’s starting to decay. It’s pretty large, but I feel like I can remove it on my own. However, I noticed that you said that even the professionals use cranes to remove deadwood. I know that I’m no professional, and if they are getting further help with removing a tree. Maybe I should take more precautions.

  35. Working in tree services really would be a dangerous job. I have never really thought about how you would have to be careful of electric wiring when it comes to a job like this. This is one job that I don’t think I would trust myself to do. Some jobs are just better left to professionals. They definitely know what they are doing more than I would.

  36. I usually have my grandfather come and help us out whenever we have trees that are in the way. A lot of the times though, we feel like leaving the tree alone is the best way to go and then try to work around it if at all possible. I agree that removing trees can be very scary. We almost had a few mishaps of our own in the past. Thank you for the helpful information.

  37. Want to hear a great story? Once my dad and I were cutting down a tree, and we were angling for it to fall between these open gate posts. It was foolish because it was so close to the house. As it started to pop, one of the blocks fell out of the cut and the tree started to twist… for the house! A huge amount of adrenaline hit me as I realized it, and I pushed with everything I had… it twisted back at the last second and fell right between the gate. Turns out there baby was sleeping where the tree would have fallen.

    That was CRAZY.

  38. I have always been amazed at some of the things that a tree removal service is capable of. We have seen a few trees removed from around our neighborhood and have considered it with one that’s in our yard. It is really old and we are pretty sure that it is getting sick. There are a lot of branches that have fallen off so we will have to look into it.

  39. Thanks for your post about how to safely remove trees. I grew up in the Northwest and we would have pretty severe wind storms each year. There would always be downed or broken trees that needed to be properly removed. This is a task that is sometimes best left to the professionals.

  40. This is one of those areas of expertise where say, “Let the pros handle it.” I’ve been trying to get my hands dirty and dive into more DIY projects. This definitely isn’t one of them. As the author mentioned, it’s entirely too hazardous.

  41. James Hobusch // October 27, 2015 at 8:12 pm // Reply

    This article mentioned that tree removal can be dangerous due to multiple reasons, especially power lines. There is a power line on the edge of my property, and the tree I am looking to have removed is right near it. The tree is rather old, so I think removing the tree in a controlled manner would be safer than leaving the hazard there. Thanks for sharing!

    • Winston Walker // January 7, 2016 at 10:16 am // Reply

      The tree removal needs to be executed very carefully and everything needs to be considered, like nearby object, the proximity to the house and the dimensions of the tree. We can’t just lop and expect everything to be fine. Your article mentions the most common dangers, which is great. Thanks for sharing it!

  42. I really like how you said, “OSHA requires tree removal professionals to wear protective gear from head to toe.” People don’t realize how important safety is when going up a tree and cutting it down. The other day I was cutting a tree and a branch fell on my head. I didn’t think it was a big deal even though it hurt really bad. Then all the sudden I noticed blood was dripping down my head. Thanks for posting this great article, I hoped others learn from my mistake.

  43. Hello, and thank you for this info on the dangers of tree removal. Tree removal is needed for many different types of projects and other reasons. I think it’s good to research and understand how to perform the tree removals with the least danger possible.

  44. This is a surprisingly difficult and dangerous job. I have had a couple unwanted trees for a while, but I didn’t want my husband to get hurt so I have not raised a complaint. It makes sense that this type of thing is meant for professionals and should not be attempted at home. I think I will follow your advice and contact a local company so I can get rid of the trees without worry.

  45. I have a tree that is starting to grow over my house and it is making me nervous. I need to get rid of it and I just wanted to do some research to see what the safest way to do it was. After reading your article, I realize that I don’t have the equipment or expertise that I would need, so I think I am going to hire a tree removal service. Thank you for sharing.

  46. There is a tree in my yard that has a branch that is starting way down over the house a bit. We are concerned that it might not hold up under another winter’s snow and ice. We are wondering whether or not the job would be too complicated to our ourselves. If so, then we will want to hire a tree service. However, how do we know which company to bring onto the job?

  47. Do you maybe have any tips for palm tree removal? I honestly don’t even know if its a similar process to trimming regular trees or if its an entirely different beast. But hey thank you so much for the tips and warnings about tree removal safety.

  48. Wow, I didn’t realize that tree removal could be dangerous! I was planning on chopping down all the trees that need to be removed myself. Maybe I will look into hiring professionals so that the job can be done safely.

  49. Thank you for sharing this information. I have a tree that needs to be cut down and have been planning on doing it myself. However, I didn’t realize the amount and type of equipment that may be necessary. Would it be a good idea to at least consult a professional first?

  50. Deanna R. Jones // September 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm // Reply

    Thanks for the information. It seems like people should be aware of tree removal risks before attempting trying to remove a tree on their own. Power lines seems like a risk that more people should be mindful of. One of my neighbors tried to chop down his tree, but it kept getting caught in the power lines. He was able to find a way to get it down without damaging anything, but it’s still important to have a plan for removing a tree so that it won’t hit nay power lines.

  51. Thanks for the advice. We moved into a house this summer, but the morning winds out of the canyon each morning knock a tree on the west side against our bedroom wall incessantly, and we want to get rid of the tree. I guess I won’t try to do it ourselves, however. I think that there are power lines near the tree, like you said to avoid. It’s probably far enough away, but it never hurts to be careful, right?

  52. That would be pretty dangerous to be cutting down a tree near a power line. What do they normally do to cut down a tree that is in the way of power lines? I have never seen anyone get their tree that big if the tree was in the way.

  53. Well all things considered, I think I’ll need to find some professional help. I’ve been removing smaller trees in my yard for years. Unfortunately all my cottonwood trees died within the last ten years, we’re down to the last one. After reading the dangers you’ve mentioned here, I’m convinced these big guys are too scary for me. There’s even a power line in the area. Thanks for watching out for others, and posting useful information.

  54. I have been thinking of removing a tree in my yard. It sounds like there are a lot of dangers in removing trees. My yard is close to power lines. I think I will have a professional take care of it. Thank you for your help.

  55. Thanks for sharing this. I was thinking about cutting down a tree in my yard but it seems like not such a good idea. It does seem like that’s something that should be left to the professionals. I’ll be sure to do that.

  56. You really got to be careful of when you are cutting down a tree. It isn’t dangerous if you are able to take the safety steps to ensure that nobody is in danger. I think it would really help to just have a professional that knows how to cut down trees safely.

  57. Great article! I’m glad that I stumbled upon it because I’ve been thinking about removing some trees in my backyard. I think you’re absolutely right: it’s important not to remove trees by yourself! I’ll be sure to follow your suggestion by hiring a professional. Thanks for the great tips!

  58. Thank you so much for posting about this! I have this huge tree in my backyard that I was planning to remove this weekend. But I wanted to make sure I did everything right. So I really appreciate you making me aware of all the dangers that come with removing a tree. I’ll definitely watch out for these once I start the process.

  59. My yard has quite a few old trees in it, and my husband was thinking about cutting them down so that they don’t blow down in the next storm. However, it sounds to me like this may not be the best idea. I don’t want him to get hurt or damage our house by cutting the trees. I think it would be really good for us to hire a professional, just to be sure that nothing falls where it shouldn’t and that all the right equipment is used. Thanks for the great post!

  60. I need to remove the trees in my back yard because we are putting a pool in. There aren’t any power lines around the trees, so we won’t have to worry about that, but we will have to be careful about decaying wood and gravity. Are tree services trained on how to keep everyone safe while cutting down trees?

  61. Great article! Thank you for sharing! We just had a huge tree fall over in a wind storm near our yard. It was a huge bummer, but we need it to be removed for sure, because it is really close to our driveway. Should I just call a tree removal service to come help, or should I try on my own?

  62. There are a lot of dangers involved in tree trimming that I hadn’t thought of. Decaying wood sound like a tree could collapse at any time. I will be sure to use a professional service when I need my trees trimmed or removed.

  63. Thanks for the information on different risks to be aware of during tree removal. I definitely want to make sure to avoid any accidents. I’ll be sure to have a professional come remove my tree as the wood is decaying. Great article!

  64. I agree that tree care work can be hazardous. That is why it is in your best interest to hire a professional when it comes to tree removal. They have the proper training and equipment to handle such a task.

  65. Thanks for the help. I know that sometimes I want remove trees that are near the power lines in my yard. I appreciate the tips on staying away from them. I will get the professionals for those trees.

  66. Gravity and big heavy trees don’t make for the nicest combo. Clear the area before chopping it down if you can, and if you can’t then set up a safety catch or something. Careful though, the safety catch doesn’t always work.

  67. Your comment about decaying wood, was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that being a problem before. However, your comment about how the decay makes the tree extremely unstable, helps me to understand why decaying trees can be dangerous when removing them. In this case, I would definitely call a professional. Thanks for sharing your information.

  68. Great post about the risks regarding tree removal. Your point about the danger of “working near power lines” is very real. Thanks for dispelling the myth that the black coating on power lines is insulation. That is a dangerous myth to believe. Thanks for the info!

    • I agree Olivia, working near power lines can definitely be something of concern. I didn’t know that the black color on power lines wasn’t insulation, that’s weird to me. I will have to ask my friend who is a lineman, maybe he knows more about it. I will have to write down whatever he tells me, that way I won’t forget it quickly.

  69. Thank for addressing the issue of decaying wood. I think that many people who want to do a DIY tree removal don’t consider what the state of the inside of the tree is. As you said, decaying wood can be very tricky. It is important to know what you are doing.

  70. Thanks for outlining these common risks to removing trees. I remember one weekend in my youth spent with my father in our cabin in the woods. We had a tree right next to a power that was being troublesome. My father took a chain saw to it making sure to to tie it off to another tree so that it would not fall on the power lines. The line however, snapped as the tree came falling down causing an explosion of the transformer and an arc of lighting that barely missed hitting my father. I don’t think that I’ll ever make the mistake of trying to remove a large tree from my property ever again. The risk is just too high. It is worth it to hire an experienced professional so that those risks are kept low.

  71. We’ve got a tree in our backyard that we’ve been meaning to remove. I had no idea that so many risks were present if you were to do it yourself. Particularly your point about gravity and how it falls caught my attention. We’ll be sure to have someone experienced come and do it.

  72. Your point about improper equipment is important, I think. I very much have a DIY attitude, and it’s been tempting to carry that over into tree removal. But then, as you say, I don’t have the proper safety gear, to say nothing of a crane. Safety is important in whatever task you do, so I realize I really shouldn’t risk doing this on my own. I’ll leave this task to the pros.

  73. These seem like excellent reasons to hire a tree removal service instead of doing it yourself. It seems like one of the best reasons for sticking with a professional is the fact that most people lack the proper equipment that’s used to safely remove a tree. You also make a good point about how a professional wears protective gear that coincides with OSHA’s safety standards. Most people don’t have the right gear to protect themselves while handling tree removal, so it’s best to hire a licensed contractor since they’re trained to handle trees without getting injured.

  74. I wonder how much trouble someone gets in if they knock out a power line. I wouldn’t wish for someone to do it, but I just want to be there when it happens. I think it would be interesting.

  75. Wow, I never thought about all the dangers of removing a tree by yourself. There are so many huge trees in yards these days that could easily destroy a power line if it was close enough. Plus, the actual felling of the tree could do major damage to the area around the tree. All of these things just how important it is to have a professional take care of tree removal!

  76. Thanks for the information. Like you said, tree removal can be pretty dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The falling tree could hit you, your neighbor, your car, or even your home. That’s why it’s so important to hire a professional to do the work for you. I’m going to make sure I do just that.

  77. You know how bad it would be if a tree you tried to remove took down power lines? You would be in more than a little bit of trouble. That would be a massive fine.

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