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Written By Kris Brown.

Posted on May 24th, 2021.

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While standing dead trees (aka snags) provide wildlife habitat, you don’t want them hanging over your house. Follow along as I begin the planning process to bring them down.

My wife Jess and I bought our first house in Stamford, NY last winter. I noticed we had several ash trees in our backyard and a few others along the rock wall that divides ours and our neighbors’ lot. I watched all the other trees slowly leaf out this spring, but the ash trees remained bare. Yep, they had fallen victim to the emerald ash borer. These standing dead trees are called snags. While snags provide wildlife habitat, you don’t want them hanging over your house.


The largest snag in our backyard. Notice the blonding on the bark and the old clothesline pulley (just above the blonding).


These snags are about 10 yards from the garage.


Another perspective.


Snags along the rock wall.

In total, I counted about a dozen ash between 5 and 25 yards from the garage. Some are more worrisome than others. In truth, our garage probably needs to be demolished. Drainage issues from a backyard seep have left its concrete slab cracked and uneven. However, hoping that a 20-inch ash falls perfectly on the garage is probably not a good strategy.

Obviously, some of these snags need to be taken down. I lack the training and the equipment for this job. However, it is incentive to buy a chainsaw for future jobs, including the required personal protective equipment (PPE), and complete the Game of Logging chainsaw safety courses. This job requires someone that is skilled in directional felling and has liability insurance. I know of several loggers that do tree service work. I could also enlist the services of an arborist.

First things first though, I will talk to the neighbors about my plans to drop the snags on our side and gauge their willingness to have the snags along the shared rock wall taken down. Best case, the neighbors and I can meet with a tree service professional or two to discuss what is truly required for this job.

At first, I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of this project. But now I see many opportunities. For one, it is a good excuse to buy and chainsaw and learn how to use it safely. We should also come away with plenty of firewood for backyard campfires and a future fireplace insert in the living room.

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