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The Invasive Tree Caper

Updated on December 23, 2015

Are You a Lawn Detective?


Investigative Landscaping

Our new house included a beautiful yard, but unfortunately, a previous owner decided to add some invasive species of trees. These trees may look nice but they end up hurting the local environment. They keep spreading and crowd out the local vegetation. Our landscaper friend took one look at them and said they need to GO.

Important: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS UNLESS YOU'VE HAD TRAINING FROM AN EXPERT. We are not tree specialists. You must have an experienced person whos done this before to show you how to do it. My husband cut a large amount of trees with an expert before he attempted this on his own. This is just our story.

The Culprits

We have two types of invasive trees.

The Mimosa

This is a pretty, flowering plant originally brought from China in the 1700's. It grows fast and easily. It takes several steps to get rid of the Mimosa. You can cut down the actual tree to the stump. But the root system will resprout. Landscapers use chemicals to kill the tree roots. You just have to keep at it till it's finally gone.

Mimosa Photo

Fang Hong
Fang Hong | Source

The Tree of Heaven

Another pretty, flowering plant brought from China in the 1700's (what were our Colonial ancestors thinking of)? We have a lot of these. Due to it's resiliency, it can grow in many different temperate environments. They are known to crowd out native trees; they shoot out spores which if unchecked can create dense tree clumps. It gives off a chemical that suppresses competition from other plants.

Tree of Heaven Photo

Geogre | Source

Creature Feature


The Return of the Tree of Heaven

Creepy, you look one day nothing the next they're all around the fence- fibrous and tough.Cut them, hack them into pieces and THEY KEEP COMING BACK!

Photo: Fence behind our shack

Tree of Heaven at Their Hideout


The Plan

I will show you how we cut down some medium size trees by the shack on our property (No, this is not my house).Originally the property looked like this. Looks pretty but the trees are starting to lean against the shack and are spreading into the fence.

HIdeout with Half the Trees Cut Down


The Setup

Here we've cut down 6 trees. We have about 6 more trees to go. On this particular Saturday, we got all our people together and laid out the plan.

The Job

The synchronization needed to cut these trees down as a team reminded me of the movie "Ocean's Eleven."

Ocean's Eleven (Widescreen Edition)
Ocean's Eleven (Widescreen Edition)

A really great, fun movie. How can you beat George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts in the same movie? Totally worth seeing.


The People

You need the following people to pull off this job:

The Professional: An Expert Consultant (my brother-in-law Sean)

The Heavy: A Strong Person (my husband)

The Wheels: A Truck with Driver (me)

The Lookouts: Older children (our daughters)

The Tools - Examples of quality equipment.

The Chainsaw we use (not pictured) is the Stihl 029 Rollomatic-E. My husband is very happy with it. A good Hardware store will have the following items, here's what you need:

  • Heavy Rope
  • Ladder
  • Safety Goggles
  • Hacksaw
  • Hard Hat

The Sting

Here's what we did, step by step.

  1. Study the tree, decide on the best angle for your cut so it will fall the way you want.
  2. Backup the truck so that it faces the way your truck needs to pull the tree.

3. Tie the rope around a strong limb use a slipknot. You may need to use a ladder.


4. Tie the other end to your truck at the hitch with a sailor knot.


5. Position your truck to make the rope taut but not tight.


6. Make the notch on the tree - Follow Safety Procedures!


7. The Lookouts get into position.


The Big Fell

Because we had a small area to fell the tree (We didn't want it to hit the shack or the fence), we coordinated making the last tree cuts with the truck revved up in low gear and moving slowly to pull the tree in the right direction. Our daughters yelled and motioned to stop or go faster or slower by my husband's direction.It's really great when you hear the crack and feel the power of the truck pulling the tree. The one time we didn't use a rope, sure enough the tree hit the fence.

Felling the Tree

Recap - Extending the line from the tree to the truck.

A Group Effort (but mostly my husband's effort)

We felt comfortable felling these smaller trees. As you can see, these trees grow almost like bamboo and can spread uncontrollably. By the fence behind the shack there were shoots of tree of heaven sprouting all over. We are very relieved to get these trees down. We will plant another tree there in the future.

Tree Stories - Remember, work with an expert before you try any of these things. Good luck!

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    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @ConvenientCalendar: Thank you, I took a million pictures and my daughter took the movie and one picture. I liked the job of weeding stuff out to the pics that told the story best.

    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you Mom!!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great lens! Great job with the camera work!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      TIMBER! Great Job! Glad my family is safe.Love, Mom

    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @CaztyBon: My daughter filmed it I'm amazed she kept the camera so still. Thank goodness we weren't filming the tree that hit the fence!!:)

    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @justramblin: Thank you. It was a fun memory for our girls. I took and my girls took a lot of pictures. I enjoyed deciding which ones to post.

    • CaztyBon profile image


      5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Enjoyed watching tree come down.

    • justramblin profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh this was really interesting. Great photo journalism. Your photos and video give a really good explanation of how to do this. It looks like the tree cooperated and feel the right way for you. What a good family project - you won't forget that one.

    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Absolutely I'll be happy when we finish getting these trees down.

    • Kim Milai profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Milai 

      5 years ago

      @ItayaLightbourne: Thank you so much. As you can see by the video our fence definitely got some hits! :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice, well explained, great photos.Yes you need to know what you are doing,as a tall tree doesn't always go as you think it will fall, seen first hand, what can happen. Care is needed, so there's no loss of life.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I don't have any tree stories of my own but know that our former neighbors felled quite a few on their property. I glanced out the window one day just in time to see one falling toward the house and actually hitting part of the roof. Seems he miscalculated. Great article, tips and photos! :)


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