Auto-Idiovideobiography: How Not To Fell A Tree – Timberrr…argh!

Yes, I am impulsive and a risk taker; it’s the story of my life. Somewhat remarkably, most of the time the outcomes are not only not bad, but often they’re actually the best decisions I ever made. Like the time my neighbor told me that the university had eight houses they were going to give away, and that I should take them, and he’d move them for me. Umm, sure! Not that I had a clue as to what was involved…

This little fiasco is an exception. It happened over at my cluster of rentals, those those same moved houses. I had no plans to take this tree down that morning; I was over there doing something else, when I looked up at that dead pine and said to myself: that should be easy to drop down in the middle of the big common yard there. What could go wrong?

(These are the comments I left at YouTube about this video):

There’s a back story to how I dropped this tree on that house, which was one of my rentals, and did very little damage. It was a pretty skinny pine that died three years ago. I figured it would be quite easy to drop it into that large yard between these two rentals. I put up my 24′ extension ladder on it and tied a pull rope on it as high as possible. I assumed one person would be able to pull it readily as I cut through the bottom, having cut an angled piece in the direction I wanted it to fall. The rope I had on hand was pretty modest, but certainly strong enough for one or two people pulling on it.

The problem is that the branches near the top of the live pine next to it were all tangled up with the dead tree. As I cut through the bottom, my puller helper pulled with all his might, but the top of the tree was too tangled up. I went over and pulled with him. Nothing doing.

So I hooked it to my truck and tried to pull it, gently. But the skinny rope just broke. Now I was in a serious pickle. The tree was totally cut through, just sitting on its stump. And we invariably get a pretty decent breeze here starting about noon or so.

The tenant whose car was parked there turned out to be out of town until late that night, but I couldn’t just leave that tree loose like that.

I went and bought a stout rope. But I didn’t dare lean my tall ladder against the tree. So I got my 12′ pruning ladder and reached as far as possible to tie the rope. But that wasn’t very far up, as I had already cut the tree pretty high up.

At this point I had no choice but to try to pull the tree again with my truck, knowing that the rope was tied much lower than it should be. And I knew that the odds of laying it down where I wanted it to go were pretty low. I rather anticipated a fiasco, which is precisely why I asked this person to take a video of it with my phone.

Once the tree came off its trunk, the rope slacked and it fell over on the house.

I got the tree off the roof pretty readily. I cut all the upper branches off, pried it up on a chunk of 4×4, and then yanked it off with my truck. I had to patch a couple of shingles and replace an 18″ section of siding, the end of the gutter and the downspout. All easy fixes.There was no damage to the car. And the tree is gone.