How would you fall this?

fishpick

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This cottonwood pulled it’s rootball and leaned over. I say leaned because it’s roots and a whole lotta earth are still attached. Then about 12’ from that it’s resting (left side of pic) on a berm built as a range backstop. Then you see the rest of this up in the air still. It is not supported to any degree by the limbs. Most of them are barely making contact with the ground. its held in space like this by the rootball still attached to the earth on the side it hinged down, the weight of the earth attached to the side that came up and where the trunk is resting on the berm. It’s a big green tree.
I think my plan is to clear out a spot on the back of the berm where I have lots of room to escape and work free of obstruction. Notch the underside about 8’ from the rootball. And then slowly cut from the top down towards the notch. At some point it’s gonna want to have the heavy top start to bend down to the ground and the weighted root ball snap back upright.
I don’t know that I want to limb the top as I don’t know how much pulling up the root ball is doing vs the weight of the limbs holding it down.
lotta energy stored in this mess. Anyone else have thoughts on approach?
 

GreensvilleJay

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ideally, I'd prefer you cut off from the 'top down'. Remove sections of branches and trunk, in a slow,controlled fashion so NO surprises. It'll all have to be cut into managable sizes anyway.
be nice if you had a bucket truck or similar to work from.....
 
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imnukensc

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Had a similar situation recently with a huge beech tree. Worked from the top towards the base. After removing/chipping all the small stuff, began cutting it into fire wood lengths. It didn't suddenly snap up, but slowly rose as cuts were made getting to the base.
 

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woodman55

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I like the other two posters ideas, far more controlled. Another option is to hook a chain to it as far up as you can, then pull on it and see what happens. Have you considered cutting it where it is resting on the berm ? The lower section should hopefully stay where it is and the upper section should hopefully hinge down to the ground. another option would be to hire an excavator for a hour and let him bring it to the ground, that way there is no worry about you getting hurt, that's worth a lot right there.
 
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RCW

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Thankfully, that’s a scenario I’ve never had to deal with. That set up has always scared the heck out of me.

I tend to agree with the others. Start from the top and be very careful.

There’s a lot of tension and compression pressures on the stump end. An improper move can lead to barber chair or other fast and uncontrollable movements by the tree, both the rootball and the top end.
 
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xrocketengineer

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I had one swamp maple like that across my driveway. I started cutting small sections beginning from the top. When I had about 12 to 15 feet left and cleared of the driveway, the sucker stood right up. Since it did not bother me anymore I left alone and it lived on for several more years.
 
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Steve67

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It would be good to have a helper if only to watch your back and be there for any emergency that might arise. Like others have said , start at the top and slowly work your way towards the root ball. Also have the proper safety equipment, eye protection, gloves etc. you know the drill
 

Dieseldonato

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Typically you start at the base. Under cut, then cut from above. The whole top down approche doesnt any more or less guarantee the tree will stand up slowly or any other way. Not being there to see it leaves a lot to be desired for giving advise as well. You know what the root ball wants to do, or at least you think it wants to stand up. (Generally it does, but not always. )
Another method is to sure the root ball up by back filling it with dirt. Then every if it wants to set back it can't. I know easier said then done. Helps to have some bigger equipment around for chores like that.
 

Bugzilla46310

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If your tractor can go under it and it’s not in the way, you have a heck of a natural bridge. I wouldn’t bother with it till you need to.
 

rc51stierhoff

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I am by no means an expert…I think I’d try to pull with a chain and see if I could get it roll a little…if there are branches not touching the ground I’ll deal with those before I try to roll it. Can’t tell from the pic but it sort of looks like you might have some branches hanging down(are they on the ground? ) to me that means it’s going to roll…or it has some potential to have some stored energy…either way I want want to try to get the limbs off safely first. After that where ever towards the trunk is holding up at the berm I’d make a cut to bring the majority of the tree down, finish off any of the limbs and then you have a log to pick up with your grapple or forks and can either chunk it up haul, or grab the butt end and skid to where ever you can safely work. One way or another the limbs need to come off and you need to cut it where it is held up…flip a coin on the best order, I just think it is easier to do the limbs first and then don’t have to worry about it hung up by limbs when the cut the trunk. Just thoughts. Be careful.
 

skeets

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1/2 inch drill bit a pound of black powder some clay and cannon fuse,, yes it work,,, or det cord if you know somebody ;)
 
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rc51stierhoff

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I recant my previous post…I think skeets is the winning solution / champion today.
 
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GreensvilleJay

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hmm, never thought about the tree wanting to back upright( rootball going back into the ground..) .Kinda assumed it was 'down for the count'...
definitely look real hard and IF the rootball can't fall back into the hole, cut from the top down
like the idea of filling in the hole to keep it where it is....
For sure it's one of those' have to be there' to SEE what's happening
whatever you decide go slow and be safe
 
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xrocketengineer

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hmm, never thought about the tree wanting to back upright( rootball going back into the ground..) .Kinda assumed it was 'down for the count'...
definitely look real hard and IF the rootball can't fall back into the hole, cut from the top down
like the idea of filling in the hole to keep it where it is....
For sure it's one of those' have to be there' to SEE what's happening
whatever you decide go slow and be safe
In my case the roots on the "downed" side were still in the ground and bent back, acting like a spring. As soon as enough weight was removed, they would spring back to their normal position. The more weight removed at a time the more the "catapult effect".
 

JimmyJazz

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I would use my more recently purchased Stihl gas powered pole saw to dismember it from the top down. All while standing safely away from potential catastrophe. It is very handy.
 
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Bugzilla46310

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When my dad and uncles cleared their property they used dynamite purchased at a local supply center. But that was around the 1930’s. Heard some hilarious stories of how high some stumps went. Surprised they all lived through it.
 

fishpick

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Thanks for al lthe input - some good ideas here - based of one wide angle photo - so, I appreciate it!

Well - my game plan after looking at things a bit more is this :

I'm gonna see if a long long long rope / chain towards the top end and the L4760 can pull it off the berm and let the whole thing fall to the ground... if that works - then it's just cutting up a fallen tree - being careful as I approach that base - as I have seen an 8N get catapulted by a big oak springing back up. If I can get it off the berm - then slowly working top down is 100% what I'll do.

I'm not overly optimistic about the rope / chain moving things tho - I don't think my tractor at 6000# is gonna do much but try to get stuck. In that case - while I like the idea of cutting the top back - that's unrealistic - this tree is way at the far end of a field in a swampy area - no bucket truck - and unless i get a full sized excavator down there and ride that bucket up - nobody is trimming the top of this thing. It's like 50' off the ground.

The back-filling the root-ball area is a good idea - but the other big tress along the ditch line from which this fell will prevent that. BUT - the upside here is - if I do end up needing to make a undercut and then slowly cut the trunk at the berm - I have massive trees to dive behind if things start to go sideways.

While tempting - I'm not blowing anything up... ;)

From where these massive trees are behind the base - I was almost thinking I might be able to undercut the trunk... then start a top cut... stop - go behind the big trees - and use a pole saw to slowly finish the top cut - if things went insane - the only risk would be the pole saw... which I can live with. (As i write that I sound very sacred... I'm not - I have done a lot of logging work in my life and THIS type of mess does make me nervous)

And - I reiterate - it's cottonwood... so while no tree is predictable when you cut it - this is not going to behave like maple or oak... these things are messy even on the best of days.

Won't be until at least next weekend that I get time to work on this - whatever I do I'll update the thread.

All I'm 100% sure of now is I'm gonna be very slow and deliberate in anything I do - with very large margins of safety...
 
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GreensvilleJay

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hmm, any chance you can dig the berm out a bit to help form an 'easy' path to pull the rootball off the berm ?
agree 'on the ground' would be best, even it it took you 1-2 days ar better than oopsy...2-3 months in the hospital !!

so... cottowoods are 'gnarly' trees...I learned something today !!!

It'll be nice to see pictures of the removal !!
 

Crash277

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this literally just happened to my neighbor a couple weeks ago. he did the "top down" method as mentioned before and the last 6-8' or so of tree just slowly stood back up. then he cut it off as close to the root ball as possible. he is a wiz with a chainsaw and made it look super easy
 

OrangeKrush

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I'm just wondering here.. because without being there and seeing it in person I have no idea what it might or might not do. Not enough experience! Certainly not a lumberjack!😁

What if you were to start cutting the roots on opposite side of the fall.. taking pressure off so it doesn't want to spring back, or are the ones towards the fall aiding in the spring? I'm not sure if this is an even more dangerous situation to try or not but at least the tree couldn't spring back.

If not feasible at least I'm sure to find out why not. 😊