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Making the hinge is the key to controlling the direction of the fall. However you can’t over come gravity with a hinge and I had one tear off like it wasn’t even there once when I improperly calculated the direction it would fall.

Tree management has a lot of different variables. Commercial interest is different then landscaping. You need to know the variety of poplar and the expected age/size it might grow.

I think you probably have a Tulip poplar which is not a poplar.
http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_litu.pdf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liriodendron

Poplar Populus (Salicaceae)
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides
balsam poplar Populus balsamifera
bigtooth aspen Populus grandidentata
quaking aspen, trembling aspen, popple Populus tremuloides

I have seen tulip poplar trees get up to about 20 inches in diameter and 60-80 feet tall so you could have a long way to go.