Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pine Tree Removal

For the past two days I was absorbed watching a crew of four remove 19 tall, white pines from our woods and 3 similar pines from our neighbor's side. Together we hired Urban Tree Service from Rochester, New Hampshire to carefully remove the pines, leaving untouched, as best as possible, all the remaining hardwoods. They did a phenomenal job, with the aid of a large crane, a tree climber/sawyer, and two others working the chipper and logging trucks. They worked carefully and methodically, despite the frigid temperature on Monday and snow on Tuesday. On the second day the sawyer (the guy who climbs up and down the trees, wielding a chainsaw to cut the trees in sections) said his feet were still cold.

Our purpose was to remove these tall pines that shaded our house and driveway in winter. The thick needles on the tree tops and their wide trunks blocked the low winter sun, so our driveway always remained ice covered and we were getting less passive solar warming on the south side of our house.

Here are a before and after picture. The after image looks a little bleak, but mainly because it is overcast, whereas the before picture was taken on a sunny day. We are anxiously awaiting another sunny day to see how much sun now reaches the house!

Before pine tree removal

After pine tree removal

Depending on the size of the tree, the sawyer made one to five cuts. The sawyer, fitted with a climbing harness and rope, protective head and face gear and leg chaps and a dangling chainsaw, was lifted to the upper part of the tree by the crane. He then lashed the crane hook to the tree, belayed himself down about 16 feet, then tied himself off to the trunk and kicked his boots fitted with side spurs into the tree. Then he reached for the chainsaw, gave it a few pulls (it seemed to need 4 or 5 pulls in the cold), lifted it to eye level, and sawed through the tree trunk. The crane operator carefully lifted the tree section straight up and then over to our driveway, dropping it gently in front of the chipper truck. The top one-third or so of the tree went into the chipper; other bigger sections were kept as logs. Some trees took 45 minutes or more to remove, while thinner trees were dispatched in 15 minutes.

The first day went slowly, probably because of the cold and the large tree sizes; they removed 7 trees. On day two the crane set up in our neighbor's driveway. And by day's end, after moving the crane one more time farther down the driveway, all 21 trees were gone. This is clearly hard work, especially in winter. Although, the frozen ground is the best for protecting the driveway, yard, and soil since there was no compaction from the heavy equipment.

After the crew left, there were some small branches and needles scattered here and there and a few logs for them to come back for. Otherwise, at first glance you might not notice they were here. The trees were cut cleanly to the ground. Softwoods do not re-sprout like hardwoods, so we don't need to dig up the stumps. The hardwoods can now put on more girth and spread their crowns. And the winter sun can shine through their bare branches to our house and driveway.

Since this was not a typical logging job, where trees are felled and the landowner receives some of the income, we paid a good sum to have these trees removed. Felling the trees would have damaged most of the remaining trees. We wanted to save the hardwoods and still have a nice woods. Doing this with our neighbors worked beautifully, as we each saved a bunch of money, and having access to their side helped with the removal of some of our trees. The neighbor kids came home early from school (and Srini arrived home early from work) to see the last few trees being removed. It is fascinating to watch. We were all impressed with the skill of the crew.

Here are a series of photos showing different aspects of the operation.

The crane in our yard; the chipper in the background

The sawyer being lifted by the crane

The sawyer lashing crane hook to the tree top

The sawyer making a cut with the chainsaw

Crane lifts tree top over to the driveway

A top going into the chipper

The bigger sections are kept for logs

The logs are loaded


  1. Thanks for the tips. Usually, I do not post on blogs, but I wish to say that this post really forced me to do so! Thanks, incredibly nice article. Thank you lots, I am obliged to announce that your blog is excellent!
    Tree Pruning NJ