What is a suitable workflow for cutting down trees?

This question appears completely off topic to me. As I said in my close comment, I would think it most likely belongs on gardening or home improvement. It has no more relevance to TGO than a question on how to quickly build (or take down) a fence.

  • I realize that my opinion has bias since I'm the OP. However, I feel that the question does not fit in Gardening because it has nothing to do with gardening/planting/landscaping. It also doesn't belong in Home improvement because one does not need a home to remove/process trees. Would the question be better suited it I removed the assumption of equipment being used?
    – Programmer
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 17:59
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    @Hooplehead24 -- Keep sharing your opinion! It's totally fine to have one as the OP and I put this here for discussion, yours included :) Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 18:21
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    @Hooplehead24 Arborism is landscaping, there's a reason why most landscaping companies also trim trees.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:03
  • I'm hardly "trimming" trees. I have about 10-15 50'+ trees that need to be removed.
    – Programmer
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 17:10
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    @Hooplehead24 now that is an information that could have helped in the question. That aside, landscaping is more than just planting pretty flowers and pruning a few trees. sometimes a project involves clearing, grading etc. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 18:07
  • I asked a meta question in Gardening and Landscaping and it seems it's not a fit for there either.
    – Programmer
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 23:14
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    I find it ironic that a question about the name of a long-handled axe is on topic, but a question about using an axe is not.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 10:11
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    @ab2 -- Well, it's not strictly off-topic, it's up for discussion. Also, axes are commonly used in many outdoor activities. Cutting down large amounts of trees is a fairly narrow activity. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:06
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    Like everyone else, I've refrained from asking why the OP is cutting down the trees, and perhaps like everyone else, I think that whatever will replace the trees will be less lovely than the trees. And I'm not asking now. HOWEVER, would the OP's question be on topic if he asked what was the least environmentally damaging way to do what he is going to do? Erik touched on that point in the last bullet of his answer: cutting down and cutting up one tree at a time gives the critters more time to adjust. Maybe there is other environmental guidance to give.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:04
  • @ab2 -- I think that's a separate meta topic. The question might be something like "Is environmental caretaking on topic". I'm not sure how to best turn your comment into a question but if you're really curious, I would suggest you take a stab at it. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:45
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    @Hooplehead24 Just a thing of wording. Start with "I once found myself in the wild and about 15 50'+ trees were standing in my way. I randomly had a xyz axe with xyz equipment with me. How should I've cut them down?" ;P
    – OddDeer
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 16:01
  • @ab2 The trees are going to primarily be used for firewood with a small amount going to lumber.
    – Programmer
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:42

4 Answers 4


I disagree. In my mind this question is about "lumberjack skills." Lumberjack skills in my opinion are definitely in the realm of "outdoor activities." I'd also argue that lumberjack skills are considered "Outdoorsmanship."

While foresters are not loggers logging skills/concepts are traditionally taught as part of forestry programs and technical training. I don't think people would argue too heavily against forestry concerns being on topic.

Also ESPN included lumberjack competitions in the list of "sports" in their Great Outdoor Games. We shouldn't let ESPN decide what is on topic here, but it does support the idea that lumberjack skills are broadly considered under the umbrella of "outdoorsmanship" and "outdoor activities" (at least in the States).

What I do agree with is strictly corporate commercial concerns shouldn't be on topic here. If we are talking about industrial equipment used for clear cutting large swaths of land then yes that is off topic. Similarly I think gold panning is on topic here, but hard rock mining with explosives is off topic.

Note: I'm not talking about the guiding industry. I do think guiding concerns are on topic.

  • I don't think there's anything in the TGO charter/guide that uses "corporate" as a criteria for topicality. Personally I'd say gold panning is off topic, but I don't feel strongly enough to worry much over it. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 18:20
  • @RussellSteen I'd enjoy reading the official TGO charter/guide if you have a link. The corporate bit is a just a personal interpretation, and a differentiating factor between an "enthusiast." I grew up in Northern California, and national park rangers would lead gold panning excursions for kids, and gold panning was promoted as a viable activity in the ranger station. That's probably why I naturally lump gold panning in with outdoor activities. nps.gov/whis/planyourvisit/outdooractivities.htm
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 18:28
  • @RussellSteen So questions about archery sport shooting are off topic or is it just any question related to sport shooting with firearms? discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/q/2789/147975 Your link would also appear to discourage any sailing related questions because it isn't mentioned. While that feels like a good starting point several years ago I feel the community has moved beyond it.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:47
  • Erik - you will see we have various questions on those topics, and they appear to work just fine. I don't think Russell has at any point discouraged anything that wasn't mentioned back in the proposal days, and yes, we all agree that communities move way beyond the definitions initially set up - which is why meta questions like this are so valuable: the community gets to discuss and decide.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 9:18
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    For what it's worth - I think the tree cutting question is too broad, but not too bothered either way.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 9:20
  • @Erik -- My point is that I do not think it serves TGO well to start limiting posts based on their relation to "corporate" activities. IMO -- That starts drifting into opinion based activism. My point with the link was that I do find it useful/interesting to read through the discussions that went into it. With regard to sport shooting, you're missing two salient points. One is that another shooting related proposal was merged in, the other is that Firearms was closed. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:10
  • (continued) "Off Topic" has to also take into considering "is there another SO site this is more appropriate for. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:11
  • @RoryAlsop I agree the question isn't very well constrained, and I wouldn't object to closing it as too broad. I does feel on topic IMO though.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:10
  • @RussellSteen I misinterpreted your comment to mean that we should stick to the topics listed. I picked shooting as a counter point to that idea. Now I understand more clearly what you were trying to say. I agree that Off Topic should encompass questions that are better served in another SE site. I do think we can have some cross over though. For instance movies.SE and scifi.SE definitely have cross over and I don't think that is a problem. As far as corporate goes, I think they're off topic simply because corp needs are radically different than enthusiast needs in scale.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:16
  • @RussellSteen (continued) It is that difference in scale that matters IMO not the entity conducting the activity. A corporate problem would either be a tip of the iceberg type question or it would better served on law.SE.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:18
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    @Erik -- "I don't think we can't have some cross over though." -- Agreed. That's kind of the point of this meta topic... to get a sense of what the community thinks is the right answer. As a mod, I prefer to just carry out the consensus of the community. Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:19
  • @RussellSteen I agree, and look forward to discovering the community's opinion.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 15:21

It's valid to question the topicality of the question, but it didn't sound like a gardening or landscaping or home improvement question to me. (There was nothing, zero, about home improvement in the question.)

Let me think aloud, here. If the OP was cutting down the trees (and building fences) in order to grow enough food (and keep out the deer) and erect a windmill and a small solar array and otherwise "get off the grid", would that be a Great Outdoors question, or a Gardening question?

  • I'd say there were elements for many SE sites, and the question taken in one go would be too big for any SE site.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:13
  • My thought is: What food to grow to attract deer - on topic. How to cut down trees to grow food to attract deer... both too broad and off topic. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 19:36
  • @RussellSteen I think "what to grow to attract deer" feels much more like a gardening question if it is close to your house. If you're baiting deer for hunting purposes then that is a different issue. In that case I'd probably just down-vote because I don't agree with baiting deer.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 20:54
  • @Erik, thats bad use of downvotes, you should downvote a question because is poor or shows no effort not because you dont agree with the author Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:09
  • @ErikvanDoren meh maybe you're right. At the end of the day voting is subjective and people vote for all kinds of reasons. If my biggest sin is a lonely hypothetical down-vote on a question about baiting deer then I can live with that. I assume you'd up-vote an extremely well written and researched position on the benefits of anti-freeze as a nuisance animal deterrent since up-votes are for quality posts that show effort and thought? Sometimes we down-vote because XYZ is harmful or inappropriate regardless of the effort and thought behind the post.
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:21
  • @Eric, using that way of thinking then we could downvote all the archery questions that would suspect hunting, just because we dont agree with hunting, or cooking meats on a fire without utensils because we are vegetarian. You would put every question as on topic and downvote the ones you dont agree with, i dont think SE is made in that way. The antifreeze thing you mentioned would be destroying the outdoors and id close it down. I hope if you downvoted at least would leave a comment saying that you did because you didnt agree with a question. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:34
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    @ErikvanDoren certainly possible that I'm wrong. I personally have nothing against hunting. Regardless this conversation has drifted from the topic at hand
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:38

Building upon Erik's answer, mostly agreeing and commenting on the issue of scale:

I see this question as more related to forestry (or, more specifically, logging) than gardening/landscaping. What's the difference is the important part: Forestry and logging occurs in what we think of as "The Great Outdoors" whereas arbory, gardening, etc. does not. In some cases that setting is blurred - if gardening/landscaping is an agroecological homestead mimicking the wilderness around it, the setting seems more like The Great Outdoors, but the intent is still more about gardening/landscaping than it is about connecting with The Great Outdoors and wild nature. Again, this question is more about connecting with wild nature - forest grown trees and how to process them, not necessarily for home improvement but just asking about an activity done in TGO.

In terms of scale, I agree with Erik that this kind of logging makes sense in TGO whereas large-scale industrial logging does not. Likewise, gold panning makes sense in TGO whereas large-scale mining operations do not. Why? In both cases of the former, if you enter the scene of the activity the average person will feel like they're in The Great Outdoors. In the latter, the average person will feel like they're in a managed, heavily modified environment that only scarcely resembles their general image of The Great Outdoors (at least in my experience and with the perspectives I've encountered about the wild and about those types of large-scale operations).


I not only find it off topic but even too broad... a proper answer would be "well... it depends".

  • What does it depend on? The general task feels fairly straight forward to me...
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 22:48
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    The general task might be straightforward but even you had to make some assumptions when you answered. It depends on tree sizes, terrain, is there something that needs to be preserved between the trees, is he alone, can he work the whole day or not, how far would he have to bring the trees if he doesnt work them right there how much room does he have if he carry them away and piles them up etc etc. He isnt talking about one tree but many trees, that complicates things, whats efficient for me in my situation and my land might not be efficient for you in different conditions Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:02
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    If being more specific would make this question more suitable, I can adjust the question.
    – Programmer
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 17:07
  • it might help in getting a suitable answer but i dont think it would change the offtopic discussion much. Besides, whats your experience in taking down big trees could be something also useful to know. I think you would better served if you were posting in a forestry and logging forum, you would probably find people with more experience in these things. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 18:23

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