Tree marking in your woodlot | Living the Country Life

Tree marking in your woodlot

Prevent costly mistakes with the chainsaw
Photo courtesy of University of New Hampshire

A few years ago, we needed a couple of dying trees cut down.  We weren’t home at the time, and unfortunately, the people we hired cut down the wrong trees!

Whether you're harvesting trees to sell or just cutting them up for firewood, Forestry Specialist Karen Bennett at the University of New Hampshire says it's always wise to mark them first.

 "Sometimes it's more helpful to mark the trees that you want to leave, and sometimes it's more helpful to mark the trees that you want to cut," says Bennett. "I think that anybody that's new to it, and if they're doing their own cutting, they probably should mark both at least to start.You know, they pick the trees they want to leave, and then they decide which trees to take out."

For instance, you could use blue flagging for trees that stay, and red flagging for trees you're going to take out. Bennett says this allows you to step back, look, and confirm your decision, because once you mark the tree with a chainsaw, it's all over!

 The materials you need aren't hard to find.

"Surveyor's tape, it's a plastic flagging, comes in different colors. You can get it at hardware stores. Basically we just tie it around the tree trunk at eye level," says Bennett. "If you're going to mark it for a timber sale, or it's going to be left for a year, you want to use tree marking paint. You get it from forestry supply companies."

Tree marks should be uniform. Put the paint splotch or flags on the same side of the trunk. Often it's better to have a professional come do it. For example, when you're having a timber sale, there's money involved, and someone else is cutting. Contact your local extension office or state forestry service to find a qualified person. Some agencies also offer classes to help you with tree management and marking.

Learn more:

Tree marking tricks of the trade

Tips for handling and use of tree marking paint

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