How to Determine a Tree’s Fall Zone

Here’s a clever way to measure the height of a tree in a matter of seconds.

The Challenge: There’s a tree that needs to come down and you need a quick and dirty way to make sure it’s not going to hit a power line, wall or anything else when it falls.

The Solution: A simple trick using basic geometry can give you a rough estimate of the tree’s height, assuming the tree isn’t on a hill. Make a fist with your left hand and hold it out in front of you by extending your arm. Raise it to eye level. Measure the distance between your left eye and the middle of your fist. Let’s say for example that it’s 23 inches.

Next, hold a measuring stick — or any other stick — perfectly vertical in your left hand, with your arm extended at eye level, so that you have 23 inches (or whatever the measurement is) of the stick above your fist.

Face the tree, sight with your left eye, and move back or forward until the top of the stick aligns with the top of the tree, with the top of your fist at the base of the tree. Stop and mark your location. The tree’s approximate height is equal to the distance between you and the tree.

Be aware: A leaning tree can throw off your measurements.