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A person cutting a tree branch with a chainsaw

Overview

Sometimes your garden has a tree that needs to come down. If it's a big one, there can be a lot of branches to deal with. Learn how to cut a tree down in basic, manageable stages, from smaller limbs to large branches. Plus, we show you a few handy tips to make your cutting and clean up a bit easier.

Steps

1Cut an access point to the trunk

Use the pruning saw to clear a path through the canopy, to the trunk of the tree. Cut halfway through the underside of the branch. Then switch to the topside, cutting half a centimetre further along the branch, towards the outside of the canopy. This gets the weight of the branch working for you, causing it to break off cleanly as you cut.
A person cutting a tree branch with a pruning saw

2Remove all the smaller tree limbs

Now that you can access the central trunk, start trimming at the bottom and work your way around the tree. Trim off the smaller limbs with the pruning saw and the loppers. By reducing the thickness of the canopy, you make cutting off the larger limbs more manageable later on.
A person cutting a tree branch with loppers

3Clear away the offcuts from your tree

Clear away your offcuts from the base of the tree as you go.  A clean workspace means you avoid any trip hazards. It's worth putting all your pruned branches on a tarpaulin as you go. That way you can bundle them up and drag them away easily.
A person cutting a tree branch with a pruning saw

4Cut the higher branches in the canopy

For a tall tree, you'll need to use a ladder to reach the higher branches. Keep the ladder stable and try not to overreach as you cut. You're cutting the tree down, not pruning it. All you need to do is reduce the volume of foliage, not cut everything off.
A person cutting a tree branch with a chainsaw

5Cut the larger branches with a chainsaw

Cut the main branches with a chainsaw. The safest way is to work in stages – taking each branch off bit by bit. It's a good idea to keep the final metre of the tree stump in place, so you've got something to grip on to when you remove the stump.
A person cutting a tree branch with a chainsaw

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.