I have 2 fruit trees in my backyard which I’d like to cut down. I would like to set up a playground set and there isn’t enough room with the trees. Can I do this myself or with a goy or neither?
It is permitted to cut down the trees for this purpose. Some prefer to use a non-Jew for this purpose. If it is possible, you should not cut down the tree, but rather transfer it to a different location.
It is forbidden to cut down a fruit tree without purpose, and on account of the danger involved in this prohibition, some are wary of cutting down a tree even with a purpose (see Gemara, Bava Kama 91b; Bava Basra 26a; Sefer Chassidim 45). However, Ramban writes that where it is permitted to do so, one need not be concerned. A number of poskim permit cutting down trees where there is a need for the space, or where the tree causes damage, darkens a room, and so on: see the Gemara itself (Bava Kama) which quotes that it is permitted to cut down a tree that affected the taste of the wine from a vine, and see also Rambam (teshuvos 112), Rosh (Bava Kama 8:15); Taz (Yoreh De’ah 116:6); Netziv (Meishiv Davar 2:56); Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 130 — he adds that where possible, one should relocate the tree with its roots, rather than cut it down); Chavas Yair (195); She’elas Yaavatz (Emden, 1:776).