Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nothing to it!

Before tackling the garden fence there was one other job that needed urgent attention. A Eucalyptus tree was thriving and beginning to annoy the neighbours; pity really because it is a very attractive tree when the sun shines through the delicate tracery. Still it hadn’t attracted any Koala bears so it was safe to prune.

Pruning the fast going Eucalyptus tree was always going to be a case of taking a lot of timber out, but in the end I decided to cut the main stem which was about 10” in diameter. The tree would regenerate itself below the cut line and form a coppice.

Living at the edge of woodland we are used to seeing tree felling and logging operations, and in theory it looks like a straight forward sort of task although some caution was obviously going to be required. In fact one day whilst walking our pet dog, a rescued Doberman named ‘Z’, he alerted me to the cries of a forest worker who had become trapped under the tree the man was felling. Having alerted his colleague who had missed the first mans pleas for help because of the sound of his own chain saw, we began the rescue. I lifted the tree trunk as the second forestry worker sliced it up to free his friend who fortunately was more embarrassed than injured. It seemed that the upper branches had cushioned the trees fall and prevented it from crushing him. Whenever ‘Z’ and I met the two forestry workers after that the second forester would tease the first with a shout of “Eeh! Up! Lad, it’s your saviours”

So back in our garden it would be safety first. Just to be certain of the required technique I looked it up on the internet, where you can find an expert on anything you can possibly imagine no matter how bizarre the subject. There was a lot of Google dross as usual but there was also a lot of useful information too. Knowledge is power.

Having read the posts at least twice I was already something of an expert myself, though I couldn’t begin to claim to be a real lumberjack until the tree was cut down. To start with, I bought a new timber saw which was particularly sharp and cut my hand without any real effort what so ever.

The internet postings I had read had recommended that you should remove as much of the branch structure as possible to lighten the load. I decided to leave the top branches intact so that they would cushion the tree as it fell across the lawn. And as space in our small and mature garden is tight I first decided on the line the tree wood fall and then began my first cuts with that trajectory in mind. Two cuts were made to take out a wedge from the front of the tree and they had to be cut at 45 degrees above and below the line I wanted to sever the tree. That wedge had to be 1/3 of the way through the trunk, so I cut it about a 1/3 and then added just a bit more for luck. On the back of the trunk a horizontal cut was made an inch above the wedge centre line. For a moment nothing happened and then there was a reassuring cracking noise as the silver coloured stem began to divide from the stump, there was a still louder crack and then a whooshing noise as the tree fell. Fell backwards that is, over our fence and into the neighbour’s garden. Maybe there was more to this lumberjack lark than I had imagined.

Those upper branches did however cushion the fall and they prevented the tree from damaging the garden it had fallen into; and then inside a quarter of an hour we had cut up what was previously a 30 foot tall Eucalyptus tree. In a small suburban garden like ours tree felling is an occasional but necessary evil. And one that is perhaps best left to an expert. Now then should my business card read lumberjack or tree surgeon?

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