DIY Willow Tree Chopping?

I have a huge willow tree that is emitting sawdust out the bottom, and has some dead limbs. Is this a dead tree? Say I am too cheap to just pay the pros to cut it down. What is the best way to get up there to cut limbs off this monster with my 16" electric chainsaw? I have thought about huge ladders, tree-house 2x4 steps nailed to the tree, renting a lift, getting a tree-guy to just chop it off above 22 feet and disposing of the mess myself, so on.
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off; they hate cleaning it up. You ought to be able to save quite a bit that way.
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Bert Byfield wrote:

You don't give enough information. How big? (Huge doesn't fit a willow tree) How close to a building? Any overhead wiring nearby? Have you ever cut a tree down before?
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Seventy feet?

Near house and garage, but the tree is top-heavy in the rearward to the field direction.

Nothing. It's on the opposite side.

I've cut down a dead crab apple tree, and some half-grown black walnut trees, and some half-grown maples. I've only got an electric 16” but I’ve been through trunks about the same size with it. The height is my problem.
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Bert Byfield wrote:

Ok, right up front I'll say if you're unsure of yourself, leave it to someone who knows what they're doing. You can get seriously hurt, or cause property damage, and saving a few bucks is not worth it.
That being said, I am not a pro but have cut down quite a few large trees of the size you mention. I never cut limbs in the air, I fall the complete tree and cut it up on the ground. If you don't have room to fall it, leave it to the pro's.
I start with a thorough evaluation of the tree. Is it leaning? Is it top heavy with limbs to one side? Does it have a weak spot? Am I confident I can get it to fall where I want it? When I'm satisfied with those answers, I tackle it.
I start by going up an extension ladder against the tree and tying 2 long heavy ropes as far up the trunk as I can get. I stretch them out and tie them off to secure points in the direction of the fall - away from the nearby buildings. The purpose of this is prevent the tree from falling backward when you make your base cuts. If possible, I even use a come-along to put pressure in the direction of the fall. I then make the standard v cut halfway through the tree in the direction of the fall, followed by a straight cut from the back side about 2-3 inches above the v point.
But to be honest, I'd never attempt that type of work with an electric chainsaw. I'd borrow or rent a 18-20 inch gas model.
Bob S.
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and limb in the event that one of the larger branches gets a mind of its own and you have to move quickly. Secondly, do you have any idea the volume of debris this tree is going to produce? It will far exceed what you are imagining, is my bet. It usually works out that way. Unless you can burn it on site the hauling of it could be a summer long project (yea, an exaggeration).
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It is dead if it has no leaves, sawdust could be carpenter ants, you can use poison. If you have never cut big limbs up in the air now is not a time to learn. My tree cutter was thrown off the tree on my last tree he cut, luckily he had a saftey harness on, a branch came bach and hit the tree and shook it, he was hurt but could of been dead.
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It has leaves. Might it be okay?

I’ll look it up.

I have never cut big limbs up in the air... Might it be affordable to rent one of those lift vehicles, so I could reach the limbs where they are more manageable?
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Bert Byfield wrote:

A full canopy of leaves or sparse? If full canopy, the tree is probably worth saving. Can you tell where the sawdust is coming from (high/low/ground level)?

If it's carpenter ants most any insecticide sprayed at their entrance will take care of them. If it's beetles higher up the tree, it may be a problem to control them.
Bob S.
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Moving quickly 30 feet up would be a problem, for sure. I plan my cuts pretty carefully, but it would be nice to be able to run. ;-)

I cut down a group of (wild) black walnuts that were blocking the sun from my back yard, and cut it all up, so I know what you mean. Summer-long might not be an exageration. But I can stack it out of the way at the start.
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ahh tree limbs can die from a variety of reasons.
cut out the dead carefully and use ant spray to kill the ants.
theres a good chance the tree will be fine
the ant spray comes in gallon sealed jugs with pump and wand.
just spray ant areases and espically any openings
carpenter ants live in old dead wood, espically if its wet.
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MAN,woodworkers all over are aghast at the loss of such valuable wood! I suspect there would have been people bidding to remove black walnut trees from your yard,willing to PAY you for them;unless they were too small for cutting into useable planks.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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Bert Byfield wrote:

You might want to post something about this on the about.com forestry forum.
The guys there could give you tips on whether the tree is dead or not. They will also strongly try to discourage you from cutting limbs like this from a "big ladder."
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

willows are not long lived trees and the bigger ones are probably usually hollow. if you elect to cut it down yourself, hollow trees are dangerous. i think the advice to get pro help is good. that said, here are a few tips. if it is an old suspect tree with a lot of lean, the danger is what a logger would call a "barber chair". that happens when the trunk splits prematurely leaving a high splint of wood which acts as a fulcrom and throws the butt up in the air. this has killed people. the solution is to cut a very deep notch, like 1/2 of the diameter.
you will also have little control over a dead tree because there isn't enough intergrity in the wood to create a hinge. the hinge can snap prematurely and the tree will fall whereever it is heaviest.
and then there is the danger of it setting back on you...this happens when you misjudge the lean or a gust of wind comes up and tips the tree backward of where you want it. since you have opened up a kerf, the tree has some room to come back. your saw will be pinched. it's a very helpless feeling.
so...maybe finding someone to get it on the ground for you is good advice. good luck.
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I had a saw get pinched once after a wind gust, up till then it had been dead calm, and if the tree fell the wrong way it would of taken out the power lines to 2 homes...
I abandoned the saw, and with 2 of us managed to pull it over the right way.
stressful city:( saw got smashed. saved so much doing it myself with helper sawcost was trivia
Of course a PRO working at my other home brought down a limb into a 15,000 volt main power line, with a ball of fire and a loud BOOM the line came down and left a mark on the asphalt till the street was repaved... luckily no one was hurt or killed...
theres a old trick, toss weight tied to fish line up high in tree, use fishline to pull up rope. then heavier rope.
you can increase dramatically the leverage by pulling higher in the tree making it easier to drop it where you want.
if the tree is in a tight spot having multiple ropes and even a rope tied to a car frame can help get it down where you want it.
such a project isnt to be taken lightly...
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you can increase dramatically the leverage by pulling higher in the tree making it easier to drop it where you want.
if the tree is in a tight spot having multiple ropes and even a rope tied to a car frame can help get it down where you want it.>>

Any tree I take down near my house, and I mean any tree, no matter how unlikely it is to drop "wrong," gets a strong line around it that is then lashed to the hitch of my rig and pulled in the direction I want to drop it.
Of course, even the best of us make mistakes, and I am nowhere near the best....my worst was the day I realized as I was making my back-cut that I had put the face cuts on exactly the opposite side that they should have been on.
Luckily, it was only a 15-footer about the diameter of my thigh....
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