What To Do With Hundreds Of Dead Trees

Low Log WallOnce you fell a tree, what do you do with it? In our case, what do we do with hundreds of trees? We are our own foresters; we do all the trimming, pruning and lately, all the felling of doomed Chinese tallow trees.

There are two parts to the disposal question: trunks and twigs. The tops of trees are masses of small branches and twigs. After we fell a tree we lop off all the smaller stuff and stack it. We have huge stacks of this brush here and there, mostly hidden from the house. Over the years these brush piles shrink and rot.  Along the way they provide great habitat for rabbits, snakes, lizards, toads, spiders, carpenter bees and an assortment of other insects.  Birds find brush piles very attractive.  They are a source of food and safety.  We have been amazed at the proliferation of wildlife using our brush piles.

The  trunks and large branches become either long logs that we use to mark paths running through our mini forest or short logs that we stack here and there.  While providing a pretty visual, these borders serve a purpose similar to the brush piles.  They provide good shelter, but are also a place hospitable to seedlings. A log border around the pond reminds everyone but the dogs to keep back from the edge, and the plants are better off for not being walked on.

One of the log-lined paths. It has been mulched and skirts past a brushpile.

One of the log-lined paths. It has been mulched and skirts past a brushpile.

We have cut some of the logs into short lengths to use where the paths curve, and just to stack here and there. They look nice and are home to the usual suspects.  While you might think that a small forest would provide plenty of shelter for wildlife, our property was at first amazingly barren.  Because the dense canopy was mainly Chinese tallow trees, and both Chinese and Japanese privet, there was very little light or moisture available to anything else. As we cleared these three worst offenders out, we were left with nearly bare ground in most places, with just thin saplings. In the three or four years since we began to manage the forest the changes have been wonderful to see. There’s not much bare ground anywhere, and the number of birds we have has increased many times over.  So these brush piles and stacks of wood have been really valuable.  We’ll let them decompose in place and enrich the soil. What better use for organic material?  Beats having a lawn!

Pondside Path

Pondside Path

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3 thoughts on “What To Do With Hundreds Of Dead Trees

  1. I recently heard a talk by Dave Whitinger of Dave’s Garden. He uses logs as a bases for raised beds. “Building a Hugelkultur Raised Bed” http://allthingsplants.com/ideas/view/dave/41/Building-a-Hugelkultur-Raised-Bed/.

    Or as you lay them piled horizontally, drill some holes horizontal holes and make nesting blocks for native bees. http://texasbumblebees.com/author/mdwarriner/ Scroll down to the March 27 entry “Plan Bee” . See also http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/nests_for_native_bees_fact_sheet_xerces_society.pdf

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