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Irma knocked down massive tree - advice?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by LandoJax, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. LandoJax

    LandoJax New Member

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    So around 3:30am on Monday morning (during Hurricane Irma) I heard a massive crack and bang in my front yard. 50ft-ish tree in my front yard, nearly the size of my house, had fallen. Luckily causing minimal damage, only really to the gutters.

    My question (see photos). With help of neighbors, we carved this tree up really well, but the area left is pushing likely 1000+ lbs of weight onto the ground - between the tree, grass, and root. I want to cut it at the stump (you can see where I started doing that) but I also need the grass and roots to fall backwards. I understand the saw would seize so I was planning many smaller strategic cuts.

    Looking for advise. I've called around for professionals to do it but with the impact in my area, it will be a while. Some have told me to have a chain on the tree and pull it backwards with a truck to lift it and set it back, some have told me to cut the grass and let it fall leaving only the root connected. I'm wondering if I continue the cut that I started at the stump whether it could fall backwards. My main concern is that it will fall forwards which would be a nightmare.

    Seeing if anyone has experience and suggestions?

    tree1.jpg tree2.jpg tree3.jpg tree4.jpg
     
  2. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Without being there to see exactly how it looks, from what I see, I think it will fall back when you take a bit more weight off the top. I agree that tying a rope over the top of the root mass to the stem and pulling with a truck.

    The people in the Caribean (Baruba, Virgin Is, St Martten) are living a nightmare, having this go the wrong way is an inconvenience. The stump can easily be ground and the area returfed.
     
  3. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Can't see much on my phone, but I will express two concerns: 1) If you cut close to the stump and it falls forward you could get squished. 2) I see a small child in one of the photos and a huge root ball that a cutter can't see over. If you take this on not only should you tied it to a truck with a strong rope or chain, but you should have everyone in the house and accounted for with only one or two helpers - one of which should be assigned the task of making sure there is no one behind the root ball. More likely than not once it starts to fall either way there won't be any stopping it.

    Ron
     
    ATH likes this.
  4. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Looks like it will fall back to me. Be ready for it.
     
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  5. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Until it is down keep folks away from it particularly the backside. You have already reduced the ballast. If enough, a little wind could suddenly stand it back up.

    I wish I was close enough to help. I don't get to cut big timber like BC, but I love the challenge of a good unpredictable root ball.

    Ron
     
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  6. VW Splitter

    VW Splitter ArboristSite Operative

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    I have never seen one fall on over up side down. without being there to look closely its hard to say. Its a physics thing, you just look at the balance of the thing, which way the weight is hanging, the pivot point there on the ground. I would think it would stand back up. continue to cut it where you have started, get a couple of the plastic felling wedges and drive them into the kerf. The wedges will keep it from pinching your bar. You should be able to cut right out the bottom. You got a chainsaw with a bar long enough to reach all the way thru? That is a lot safer than cutting down both sides and trying to meet in the middle. Be ready to move quickly when you see the stump moving. Look at the log and see which way it will move once it is cut from the stump. Which side do you want to be standing on as you finish the cut? Most important is to have someone watching to make sure there are no kids or animals playing around the stump when you cut it. It wouldn't hurt to put a LARGE rope on the big root at the top and put some pressure pulling it with a truck in the direction you want it to go. If you are not sure and comfortable with it, wait on the professional.
     
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  7. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    It may or may not set back up. Less likely that it will come forward.

    Assuming you are not trying to save the log, I'd just cut off 2-3' at a time. If it starts to move up, it should start to move slowly...then it may go suddenly. If you finish that cut at the base, it may go quickly without warning.

    The advice to have a lookout on the back side of that is good.
     
    TNTreeHugger, rwoods and moondoggie like this.
  8. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have had more than one root ball of a downed tree fall forward. Probably unlikely on your flat ground and what appears to be loaded roots, but I would not rely on probabilities expressed from internet observations.

    For added safety, I prefer the large rope under tension approach over using a chain. In fact if you are using a rope it should be under tension to remove the potential stretch.

    Ron
     
  9. DR. P. Proteus

    DR. P. Proteus Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Surprised you got that far without a medical emergency!
     
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  10. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Just to be safe, you better wear double condoms and have your mom on speed dial (AvE)
     
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  11. ValleyFirewood

    ValleyFirewood Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd love to buy that guy a beer or three. I'm pretty sure he'd be fun to have around the circle of chairs in the b/s sessions at the shop!
     
  12. ValleyFirewood

    ValleyFirewood Addicted to ArboristSite

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    My thought...

    Go from bottom up about half way, and then top down. If the root ball is pulling it'll break the "hinge" somewhat slowly and plop into the hole.
    Could do a narrow V at the top to give the bar some breathing room to come out if that needs to happen quickly too.

    Could stack some blocks, pallets, etc under the log so it won't drop the 2ft. Less chance of it rolling toward you in the fall and busting up your saw or your legs.
     
  13. ArtB

    ArtB ArboristSite Operative

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    What ATH and Valley said.
    I have pulled over a number of large trees with dozr and wire rope (DFir and black cottonwood), MOST don't fall back either way, especially if the soil is wet, they just stay standing up!

    I'd block under the trunk just toward the root ball at the first crotch, and cutoff the rest of the branched/crotch areas.

    If it does not fall back into the hole, jack it up (hydraulic jack(s) and blocking) till it at least tries to go back down into the hole.
    I have a 40" dia cottonwood in the back lot that I pulled over 8 years ago, and cutoff about 10 ft up. Even with a Ford 4500 and JD440 tracked loader to push up on the remaining trunk stub, it only went up about 45 degrees - any further push and the near side wanted to come out of the ground. It is still there as not in my way (3 acre lot) nor in the front yard <G> Hopefully yours will fall back into the hole and you can cut the trunk off flush and get it ground out.

    If it does not go all the way backinto the hole, best to rent a backhoe (with thumb) in a few months when demand has dropped back to near normal and knock the dirt off the root ball into the hole and then 'shake' the rest of the dirt off (reason for a thumb being needed) and put the remaining root ball onto a trailer for disposal.
     
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  14. DR. P. Proteus

    DR. P. Proteus Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd tape off the area pronto.
     
  15. MountainHigh

    MountainHigh 45cc and 60cc

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    my 2 cents:

    Personally, I would NOT want those roots and stump to fall back into place, I'd want them out of there in order to replant something new to take its place.

    If we're thinking along the same lines, seems to me you want to start wacking the sod away from the root ball while you've got it cantilevered (back hoe would be ideal but until you can get one, maybe see how far you can get swinging an old axe at it if you feel energetic and can do it safely, etc) to separate the tree roots from the soil, then fill your hole with the nice soil and cut up the exposed roots and tree, and remove. If it's too hard doing it by hand, I'd wait it out and get a machine. No use cutting it now only to have it stand back up, and then have to drag the roots and stump out again later to replant.

    Once its out, plant a delicious fruit tree in the hole and keep the kiddies healthy and happy ;-)
     
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  16. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Curious: was that big root at the top/center cut or is that broken? I wouldn't have expected a root that far from the trunk to have de-stabilized the tree...
     
  17. cedarhollow

    cedarhollow ArboristSite Operative

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    i wish you the best with it . I have yet to see what my house in cape coral looks like. there were more than a dozen trees taller than the power pole on my little 80x120 house lot. I have already gotten messages on my cell phone from neighbors who are upset that I never trim my trees to nubs like evreyone else . if the place is still there it is going up for sale asap. I hope to heads back saturday, hoping there is gas and traffic has subsided. fortunately a semi retired professional tree guy/arborist has volunteered to come with me to help out.
     
  18. Toronado3800

    Toronado3800 ArboristSite Member

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    What is the advantage of having it back in the hole? Around here ppl pay to have stumps removed.
     

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