Can i cut a tree down in my garden?

UK Home Improvement

Can I Cut a Tree Down in My Garden?

If your home is fortunate enough to have a spacious garden, it can provide your household with a wide range of advantages. From providing you with a place to relax with loved ones to hosting summer parties, the benefits of a garden are endless.

Another great benefit of a garden is that it allows you to reconnect with nature, providing a place where you can grow all kinds of flowers, foliage and plants. Trees can also make for a great addition to a garden, offering aesthetic advantages and housing a variety of interesting wildlife.

But, what if you no longer want your garden’s tree? Can you just cut it down? 

In this article, we’ll answer the question ‘can I cut a tree down in my garden?’ outlining all of the considerations if you’re looking to remove any household trees.

Read on to find out more.

Can I Cut A Tree Down In My Garden?

Yes, in most cases you can legally cut down any trees that are in your garden without needing to acquire a felling licence or seek permission. 

This is because it is on your private land, and so counts as your property. 

Just like you don’t need permission to cut your grass or plant flowers, you usually don’t need to seek any permissions for cutting down your garden’s trees.

However, there are a couple of instances where this may differ.

If the specific tree is subject to a preservation order, usually this is the case if it is a rare or endangered tree species, or your land falls in a designated conservation area, you may require a felling licence before you can legally cut down your tree. 

If you’re in doubt about whether or not you’re allowed to cut down a tree, seek advice from the Forestry Commission if you’re in England. If you’re in other parts of the UK advice will be available from the following organisations: 

  • Scottish forestry 
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Northern Ireland Forest Service

If you’re a private renter, you may also want to cut down a tree that is causing you trouble in your rented accommodation. However, in these instances, you will need to seek the approval of your landlord before carrying out any work. If they agree, you may proceed but be aware that they may want you to cover the costs. 

If you have the correct permissions or the tree is on your private land without any of the caveats listed above, you can carry out the work but be aware that tree felling can be challenging and unpredictable.  

You will be responsible for any consequences of the process. 

For example, if the tree falls in an unintended direction and damages your neighbour’s fences, shed or property in any way, you will be obliged to cover the cost of repairs.

Can I Cut A Tree Down At The Front Of My Property?

Sometimes, the street at the front of your home may have trees.

These trees usually sit on public property so if you want to cut them down, then the process is different to if the tree is on your own land. 

You will likely need to apply for a felling licence – especially if the tree in question amounts to five cubic metres, or more, of timber. These can be applied for online on the Government’s website. 

Usually, a felling licence will come with a number of conditions that typically surround replanting and maintenance of tree stumps. 

Illegal tree felling can be punishable by unlimited fines and, in severe cases, even prison sentences so it’s important you always get a licence when it is necessary. 

How To Safely Cut Down A Tree

If you are planning on cutting down a tree yourself rather than using professional tree surgery services, then it’s important to follow the correct procedures to ensure the process is carried out safely. 

Cutting down trees can be dangerous and even fatal – so take some time to familiarise yourself with the process before springing into action. 

Wear Safety Equipment

As you’ll be handling a chainsaw and dealing with a heavy object (the tree) it’s essential that you have the appropriate safety equipment. 

This includes:

  • A helmet
  • Earmuffs
  • A face screen
  • Safety goggles 
  • Safety gloves
  • Kevlar chaps (a type of trousers that will prevent a chainsaw from cutting into your leg if you lose grip)

Estimate The Falling Zone 

This is not an exact science, but you should take some time working out where the tree is likely to fall. 

To do this, use the axe handle method. 

Hold an axe at arm’s length and back away from the tree with one eye closed. Stop when the top of the axe is level with the treetop and the bottom is level with the tree’s base. Where you are now standing is roughly where you can expect the top of the tree to land when it has fallen.

Trees are always bigger and taller than you expect so incorporate some margin for error, too. 

Remove Surrounding Foliage 

If the worst happens and the tree doesn’t fall as you expect, you will need a clear escape route. 

Remove bushes, surrounding foliage and debris on either side of the tree so there is an area for you to dash into if the tree doesn’t fall as expected.

Create A Notch

A notch is a small section of the tree trunk that you will remove prior to cutting to help make the fall easier. Mark where the notch will be with chalk, ensuring it is a comfortable height for you to work with. Then cut the notch, making the bottom incision first and then the top. 

Cut Down The Tree

Now for the main event. 

Score a line connecting the apex of the notch on both sides. This will act as your cutting guide. 

Then, start cutting into the tree. As soon as you start feeling the tree leaning pull the chainsaw away and retreat using your escape routes. Never take your eyes of the falling tree at any part of this process.

It is also worthwhile having a lookout with you who can warn you if anything starts to go wrong.


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