First off: why would you ever need to know the height of a standing tree? Three reasons come to mind:
- The height of a tree is vital to know if you’re cutting it down. It’s important to make sure nothing and no one will be harmed when it falls.
- Similarly, it’s important to know if your house is in the falling zone of a tree if it were to fall in, say, a storm.
- You’re just plain curious. Hey, I now know the magnolia tree in my front yard is twenty-four feet. Ka-pow!
Below you’ll find some practical (and not so practical) ways of measuring a tree
- Impractical Tip #1: Ask a squirrel
This may sound like the easiest and most enticing option, but there’s a fair amount of leg work that goes into asking a squirrel the height of a tree. First, you will need to befriend a squirrel. This can take a few years. You can gain its trust by constantly having a ready supply of assorted nuts, allowing it in your house, and letting it sleep in your bed. Then you’ll need to teach the squirrel English, or, at the very least, some sort of numerical system. Finally, you will need to trust that the squirrel isn’t lying to you.
- Impractical Tip #2: Climb
With measuring tape in tow, climb to the very top of the tree. Once you reach the highest point, hold on to one end of the measuring tape and drop the other to the ground. Read measuring tape and that’s the height of your tree!
(While we wish you the best of luck with your squirrel-befriending endeavors, please don’t do option #2=)
1) Practical Tip #1: Measure the Tree’s (and Your) Shadow
With just tree measurements and this handy dandy calculator you can have a solid tree height estimate. You’ll need just three measurements: 1) Your height, 2) Your measured shadow (an extra hand is helpful for this), and 3) The tree’s measured shadow. Plug these into the calculator and voila! (Note: when using this method be sure to measure your shadow and the tree’s shadow as close together as possible.)
2) Practical Tip #2: Look Between your Legs
Sounds crazy, I know, but this method—which, as rumor has it, was a trusted Native American technique—provides surprising accuracy. Here’s how to do it: 1) Stand with your back to the tree. 2) Look between your legs at the tree. If you can’t see the entire tree, walk further away until you can. 3) Stop when the top of the tree becomes visible through your legs. 4) Mark this point on the ground. 5) Using measuring tape, measure from the mark on the ground to the trunk of your tree, and voila! You now have an oddly accurate height of your tree.
3) Practical Tip #3: The Yard Stick Method
Admittedly, this one is much easier to show than tell. Take a look at the below video of a forestry professor from Stephen F. Austin State University show us how to measure a tree with a yard stick.
Please note: these methods are merely estimates. For exact measurements, contact your local arborist. Happy tree measuring!