The tree has to go, but how? At which time of the year you are allowed to fell a tree, what you have to consider when felling in your own garden, which permits are necessary and which felling technique is right for you: An overview with detailed step-by-step instructions.

Without trees, the garden would only be half as green. The different tree species create structure on the property, provide clean air, provide food for animals, provide shade, and in autumn provide an organic protective layer with their leaves that protects the soil against frost and drought. Especially in larger cities, trees have the described ecological, but also a microclimatic significance. All German municipalities and districts have issued tree protection ordinances to ensure that the tree population on private properties is preserved. Among other things, they also regulate the conditions under which a tree may be felled on a private property.

The age of the tree and its associated size play a central role in this. In addition, the season during a possible felling date and -whole important – the tree variety. Attention: Violations of the Tree Protection Ordinance will be punished with severe fines. Creating arbitrary facts is therefore not to be recommended when it comes to felling trees.

These are necessary: Good reasons for felling trees
Pines that grow into the sky, a birch tree that comes threateningly close to the neighbouring house, Douglas firs that have disturbed the new owner of the property since he bought it or are in the way of a building project – there are many reasons to fell a tree. Whether these can be explained in each case in sufficient measure justified, often decides whether the request is followed by the responsible municipality and a felling permission is given. How and when it may be felled varies from state to state and often from municipality to municipality.

As a rule of thumb the protection by the appropriate tree protection regulation is considered for deciduous and coniferous trees with a trunk circumference of about 60 to 80 centimeters, measured in approximately one to scarcely one and a half meters height: Exact data gives it with the appropriate specialized authority in the administration of your municipality. Some cities, municipalities and rural districts generally exclude conifers. Fruit trees do not fall under the tree protection statutes in any case. The same goes for hedge plants. Attention with walnut trees: These are regarded as deciduous but not as fruit trees and are therefore protected.

If the tree stands directly on the property boundary, an agreement with the neighbour about the fate of the tree is indispensable. This tree is often regarded as a border tree and is therefore the property of both parties before the law. The respective valid neighbour right of the municipality regulates the ownership just like foliage and shadow throw into neighbour’s garden. However: Not each municipality has a neighbour right law. An example? Hamburg manages without and trusts that Hanseatic landowners will settle controversial cases without the help of paragraphs.

When is it allowed to cut down a tree – and when not?
From 1 March to 30 September, tree felling is generally strictly prohibited. Then the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BnatSchG) protects nesting birds. Exceptions are granted when danger is imminent. This means that trees threaten to tip over after storms, are generally rotten or dead wood has collected in the crowns of deciduous trees. Building projects are also grounds for approval outside the usual felling months.

Additional tip: Who falls between November and at the end of January, wins firewood, which is faster available for heating. Now the wood contains less water due to frost and dries faster.

Fell yourself or hire a professional tree feller?
High and/or overhanging trees, those whose angle of fall cannot be predicted with certainty or which are in the immediate vicinity of houses, roads, power lines or similar “obstacles” should be felled by specialist tree surgeons. Anything else would be life-threatening.

Well-trained specialists are able, for example using rope climbing technology or a lifting platform, to remove treetops from the top and to cut even tall trees safely.

On request, specialist companies can also communicate with the responsible authorities, obtain the necessary felling permit and dispose of shredded branches after the felling date or take care of the further processing of the firewood for the fireplace.

Before felling, a site visit is usually necessary. Experts speak here of the so-called tree speech. What is meant is a thorough assessment of the effort and sources of danger at the site of the incident. After the tree approach, have a cost estimate drawn up for you and pay close attention to which services are included. For example, whether the experts will process the trunk into firewood for you or whether the removal of the tree stump is included in the price.

When professionals cut down trees – you have to reckon with these costs
For orientation: A felling permit costs between 50 and 150 euros for most municipalities. Cutting down a medium-sized tree costs between 500 and 800 euros gross. However, the costs can vary greatly depending on region and company, season and external circumstances.

Felling a tree yourself – step by step

Let’s suppose your tree is medium in size at most, so it’s not more than five meters from the base to the top. It is free of any obstacles on your property. You have the necessary permission. Likewise chainsaw, protective equipment like helmet with visor, gloves, cut protection trousers and firm shoes. You dare to do this with the project “cutting down trees” and have at least one helper on site.Waiting for a windless day. Strong gusts or constantly changing wind directions make it difficult to calculate the fall direction of the tree.
To close off the possible drop angle of the tree. Also make sure that no animals can get into the area around the tree to be felled, apart from family members or walkers.
Remove all branches that are at the same height as the trunk of the tree to be cut. This is the only way to bring down the trunk later with three cuts.
Attach a rope as high as possible to the trunk of the tree to be cut down. So helpers can influence the direction of the tree in the falling (a piece far).
To observe the correct felling technique. Cut a 45 degree notch with the chainsaw to the side into which the tree is to fall – professionals call it a notch. This should be about a quarter to a maximum of a third of the depth of the tree trunk. For cutting, the sword of the chainsaw is always applied at full throttle so that the chain does not get stuck in the wood.
The tree is cut down with a cut on the opposite side of the trunk to the notch. Place the chainsaw about half a hand’s width above the felling notch. And move away from the trunk calmly but quickly when the tree starts to tip over. The trunk often seesaws at least once when it hits the horizontal.

After felling – remove tree stump or allow to rot
Once the sawing work is done, the trunk remains processed into firewood – a tree stump. It is a matter of taste whether you want to experience it as a nuisance in the following months and years, ignore it or even consider it beautifully planted as a kind of permanently installed flower pot. However, it can take up to ten years for a capital tree stump to rot and disintegrate into easily dismantled individual parts.

If you should remove the stump, propagated “household remedies”, i.e. to burn the stump in and out with salt, petrol or grill lighter, are not to be recommended. The dangers are incalculable and the environmental impact is high.

If you want to remove a tree stump once and for all, you have to dig it up to make it sweaty or remove it using a tree stump cutter, also known as a stump cutter. The latter can be borrowed on an hourly basis. If you take some money into your hands, you will get a specialist company to remove the stump and dispose of or compost the shredded material properly.


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