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  • Writer's pictureZach

TIMBER! Our Poor Front Yard Tree

Our poor front yard river birch took a hit during a recent early morning storm. It wasn’t much of a storm so we’re not really sure what happened - either it got hit by lightning or the branch was struggling enough that a wind gust was just enough to bring it down. Whatever happened, we were shocked to find half of it lying on the ground as we were getting rolling one morning. Not a fun surprise to wake up to.

h and a looking at fallen tree

We’ve never been a fan of this tree except for the fact that it is the biggest tree we have out front and provides nice shade. But most river birches are grown to have two or three trunks together.

front yard fallen tree branches

When we first moved in to our home, the tree was already down to one trunk. It had a low branch coming off of it that made it look even more unbalanced so I removed that to even out the focal point in the front yard. Sadly, the part that fell was closest to the house so now the tree is looking even more sad.

River birch with fallen tree branches

Trimming the Broken Tree

Luckily, the day it fell I had the day off and truly enjoy using a chain saw so I got to work. Three years ago, when I had to remove a couple of trees along with several branches, I invested in a good 16-inch Echo Chain Saw. The Chain Saw has worked great and as long as it stays full of blade oil, has a sharp chain, and stays clean it has had no problem.

zach on ladder cutting down branch with chain saw

I was able to get most of the tree cut down and cleaned up during the day. The worst part about cutting down trees or branches is that clean up. I saved as much wood as possible to add to my fire wood, but the small branches and leaves quickly filled up my yard waste bin. I moved the other branches to a pile on my driveway to get it off the yard.

pile of leaves and logs on driveway

Luckily, that day my kids were gone so I was able to get a ton done. I was left with a big heavy branch that I didn’t want to risk removing alone by myself. Once my kids returned home, I gave them a job to pull the branch away from the ladder and the plants. We had a quick talk on what to do if I get hurt, and the final cutting began.

kids holding ropes tied to tree

When cutting branches if the blade is dull, it will create a fine sawdust instead of coarse strands of wood. You want it cutting out wood chips instead of saw dust. The blade should feel like it’s pulling the saw into the wood. Sometimes it starts to smoke more when the blade goes dull. It should cut smooth and run through the wood fairly easy. I’ve learned to have an extra chain that’s sharp on hand to keep the project moving along. A sharp blade makes the job easier and safer when cutting tree branches. When switching blades, I’d highly recommend having a simple chain saw scrench. Scrench not wrench. It will save you lots of time when adjusting the blade and opening the gas and oil caps.

Splitting Logs for Firewood

I bought a hydraulic log splitter the last time we were removing a lot of trees. It's a great tool to help split a lot of logs into quarter pieces to help them dry quicker and make them ready to use in our small fire pit.

log splitter in front of pile of logs

It's a simple tool and the kids even like to help with this. Much safer than handing them an axe.

zach splitting a log

We've taken down a lot of trees so we have had a pretty steady stash of firewood for the firewood storage piece I made out of our old deck. *click to read that blog*

fire wood storage

In less than a day the project was complete. No injuries and all the branches removed from the yards. Always good to get the kids involved to help, learn, and keep busy. Especially when they can keep a distance and play tug of war with a rope. Now to decide just how long the rest of the leaning tree gets to stay up...

front yard with leaning tree


Need a fallen tree/firewood fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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