Cutting Down the Poplar Tree


There’s a big Black Poplar (probably a Lombardy type) tree next to my driveway.  I think it’s about four or five feet in diameter at the base, and probably 100 feet tall.  It sits right on the property line, so no telling who planted it.  Although not a young tree by any means, it may not be as old as it looks… these trees can grow five feet a year!


The poplar tree isn’t looking so good this summer…


There was a knock on the front door today, and it was the landscape supervisor for the property management company that runs the apartments next door to me.  Apparently they’ve been getting some complaints about the (very) dead poplar tree, and wanted to know if I’d chip in half the cost of taking it down.  Um… not really…


Today when I got home from work, there was a nuisance notice from the city about the tree.  Looks like I have no choice now.  Either the apartments and I hire a tree service to take it down, or the city hires one and charges us their cost plus fines, etc.

The landscape guy from the management company had called a number of places to get bids.  Most of them didn’t even call back.  Of those who did, the cheapest bid was $2800!  The next bid was $3500, and one guy wanted $13,000!  Yow.

So I had Nate come over and cut it down with a handsaw.

No I’m kidding.

Obviously, we went with the lowest bidder, Rose City Tree Service.


It was a cold morning, but as the sun inched up the clouds burned off and it turned into a beautiful day.

One of the challenges in taking down this tree was that the power lines ran through the branches, with a pole right next to the tree, and then the lines turned and ran through the branches in another direction.

The tree service showed up a little before 8:00 am and got to work.  There were only four guys counting the supervisor, I had expected a larger crew.

Sometimes they tied a rope around the top of a branch to help pull it down.  The main chainsaw guy would cut it just enough that they could pull it down instead of letting it fall by gravity alone.  In theory this allowed them to bring it down somewhere clear.  In practice… not so much.

After about half an hour, the chainsaw monkey geared up and started climbing the tree.

He kept working his way up the tree.  By 9:00 am, he was way up there.  I added an arrow in case you missed him…

The crane showed up around 9:00, and after he got set up in the street, they started using that to bring things down.  Nate arrived a little later.  “Don’t let ‘em start without me.” He said when he called after crawling out of bed.  I said “Dude you better hurry, you’re gonna miss the whole thing!”

I felt a little safer once they got the crane going, letting heavy branches come down easy.  That whole pushing them off from 50 feet in the air and let them fall wherever thing was making me nervous.

Did I mention that this guy is insane?

After taking down most of the upper branches atop the main trunk, they had to hoist up a longer chainsaw so he could cut through the trunk.

The upper section of the trunk he cut off was taller than what was left.  It was only about 10:30 at this point.  Somewhere in here they had filled up the box truck with wood chips and one guy had to go dump that off and come back.

The next section to come down was shorter, but probably heavier.

Then he had to use an even longer chainsaw.

The last section of the trunk was of course way too thick to fit the chainsaw all the way through.  So he just cut all the way around until it pulled loose.

It was scary watching that thing lift over the power lines and then come down.

The chainsaw leaves such a rough cut, it was difficult to make out all the tree rings.  The bottom section of the trunk was really multiple trunks grown together.  I could make out the center of the main trunk and one of the others, but the rest of was just a crazy mix.

Somewhere along the way he hit some glass in the tree, which really did a number on the chainsaw teeth, so he spent some time resharpening them with a file.  Actually I think he gave up after a while and put a new chain on.

They stopped for lunch, and Nate and I went to lunch and then drove down some streets we’ll never afford to live on.  When we got back, they were sawing the limbs and trunk sections into smaller chunks and loading them into the box truck, and the pickup truck and trailer.

While Nate was up on top of the stump (for the “handsaw” photo), I had him take some photos looking down at the top of the stump.  The tree rings are a little clearer here.

I think there were at least two, maybe three trips with each truck to haul off all the wood, not counting the shredded stuff they took in the first trip mid-morning.

At some point, they found this crescent wrench in the tree, ha!

Finally, they had the last of the wood loaded up, and all the debris swept up, about 5:30 pm.

Yeah, good thing I had that $1400 sitting around wanting to be spent on something good.