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Cut down dead trees?

April 24, 2005

I have a number of dead trees still standing in my 3 acre woodland. Some are a safety problem, others are not.

My husband is dying to chop them down, however, I've read that dead trees are the homes of birds and insects that are essential to a healthy woodland.

Any advice?

Comments (7)

  • catherinet

    If you really believe they're a safety issue, then cut them down.....but you could still leave a 5' or higher stump. Also, when you cut them down, leave the tree laying in the woods. It still does good things laying on the ground!
    The ones that aren't a safety issue, definitely leave standing.
    Lots of people feel like they need to "manicure" their woods........but that's the worst thing you can do for all the other species of animals, insects, etc. that live there and need the "messy" woods to be happy.

  • Ina Plassa_travis

    ditto- a dead tree by itself is not a safety hazard unless you have a particularly talented tree-climbing offspring and even then- they're safer standing than they are lying down- trust me, I fell off my share of logs in my day ;)

    deadfalls really are essential- as are equally unattractive things like them darned 'turkey buzzards' that I have to restrain myself from chasing off just because they're so UGLY up close.

    now, if you've got a dying/dead black walnut, and know where you can get it milled into lumber, by all means, let them take it down- but otherwise, leave anything you can standing... though I know what guys are like where chainsaws are concerned- you'll 'have' to let him take at least one down. he'll pout otherwise.

  • jim_dandy

    I know what you're going through. I have many dead trees in my woods. Every once and a while during a bad storm one falls and the crash scares the crud out of me. One tree really concerns me. It is a double tree and the one side is dead and angled toward the house. That one is being cut this summer but in the mean time I'm enjoying watching all of the wood peckers and nuthatches scurring all over it and making a racket.

  • reg_pnw7

    The ones that are a safety issue should be cut but leave as much stump as possible as habitat for other critters. The others should be left alone.

    If you don't have a pressing need to use the cut wood, leave it lying on the ground where it falls. When the tree grew the wood it took nutrients out of the soil to do so. When the tree dies is when the nutrients are returned to the soil for other critters to use. Ditto for any leaf and twig fall. Harvesting interupts the nutrient cycle - that's why gardens and crops need to be fertilized and wild lands don't. Wood decaying organisms, like bugs and fungi, decompose the wood biomass into nutrients for plants like ferns and new trees to use, as well as being food for woodpeckers and such.

  • achang89

    I have a similar situatioin. If the dead trees are already on the ground, or they won't be safety hazards, I'll just leave them alone. What concerns me are several trees that lean on other large trees and trying to take down the large trees with them. I'd like to cut the dead trees down.

    But since the dead trees are large, it is dangerous try to cut them down by yourself. I'm still not sure yet if I should hire tree people to cut them down....

    How do you think?

  • carrie630

    get a "come along" - when you use the chain saw, cut a wedge and then rope the tree - using the come along to pull it in the direction you want. Carrie

  • bhrost

    Dead trees are the most dangerous to cut down because it is unpredictable when they will fall, and their dead limbs will break off more easily and fall on your head. I'll bet a lot more people get killed and injured by trying to cut down a dead tree than having one fall on them by natural means. Another reason to consider just leaving them up until a big wind comes along. Wearing a hard hat while doing it may help, but construction workers, tree fellers etc still get killed wearing hard hats if something heavy enough falls on them. Nothing makes a woodland look more natural than the bleached appearance of old snags.

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