How To Remove A 50' Tall Tree

For the last 10 years, we've been trying to save the old pecan tree on the side of our house. Despite our best efforts, it would die off a little more each year until all that was left was the trunk and 4 main branches that towered over all the houses around it.

Every few years, we'd hire a tree service to come in, prune, assess, and give it some TLC in order to keep it going. However, last year's drought was the final nail in the coffin I guess.

Drought Victim

When spring came, we did the annual clean up the yard and noticed that the base of the tree where it touched the ground had a huge hollowed out spot under it. The more we looked, the more concerned we became. We had to face the fact that this tree, which was probably a hundred years old, had died. In fact, we found a vertical split from the ground all the way up to one of the main branches about 20 feet above ground.

Thus began the process of obtaining estimates for removing it. We had a lot of people offer estimates, but far fewer who had insurance, and even fewer who bought the insurance and kept the insurance after showing a homeowner the certificate. Of course, since the tree was so huge -- about 50 feet tall -- we were concerned that removing it might result in one of the heavy sections falling onto adjacent houses and damaging pools, houses, or, horror of horrors, hitting a person or a pet.

Every time we had strong winds, I worried so I was happy to find an affordable, experienced tree cutter and was able to verify his insurance. I made arrangements for him to remove the tree today. He and his crew showed up at 1 o'clock. They finished at 6:30 pm. These men were amazing!

Removal In Pictures

Here are some pictures of the process. The top picture shows part of the rotted base. The tree at about five feet above ground was 102 inches in circumference.

The second picture shows the young man who climbed the tree using tree spikes on his boots. He's standing at the edge of the roof on the only low tree branch that remained. Attached to his waist by a leather strap was a chainsaw that was already running.

The climbing tree cutter has not reached the branches. From here, he climbs up even farther and begins tying safety lines on each section and slicing the tree into pieces which the ground crew would pull down. So it went piece by piece until all the branches were gone, and then he started on the trunk-- one chunk at a time.

Only 2 cuts got away from him and the ground crew. One was a foot long chunk of branch that was so rotted it fell apart in the safety line, flew through the air, and fell into the rose garden. It knocked off a lot of blooms but didn't do any major breakage of the bushes.

Heads Up!

The other piece was bigger but it got away because of the same reason -- so rotted the rope disintegrated it. This piece was about 5 feet long though and was part of a fairly large branch. We were standing on the patio watching the tree cutter when that log went flying through the air, hit the roof, and skidded across it as if it was surfing. It landed in the back yard and left a nice little dent in the sod.

Five and a half hours later, the tree was down and cut into sections. The crew began loading the sections into a trailer. One of the men told me they were going to try to sell the pieces that weren't rotted, possibly to a furniture maker. Sadly, there weren't that many whole sections. The rot went all the way through.

We felt so sad to lose the tree, but we also felt relieved that we no longer had to worry about a storm sending the tree crashing into someone's house. If that had happened, it would have wiped out the house and probably anyone in it.

Takeaway Truth

We packed up for a weekend in the Hill Country. As we pulled out of the driveway, we stopped and looked. Our home just didn't look the same without the old tree towering over it.

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