[DIY How-To] Repurpose Your Dead Trees Into Mulch & Firewood

how to repurpose dead and fallen tree limbs

Are your trees healthy? Even though fall is typically not the season to prune your trees, which encourages growth or flowering next spring (this is usually done after the coldest winter weather has passed), it is a perfect time to assess the health of the trees on your property. Removing dead limbs won’t encourage growth, and will help eliminate potential problems brought on by inclement weather. It will also provide you with ample mulch and firewood for the long cold months ahead.

Remove Tree Limbs

  • to get rid of diseased parts and save the tree
  • to avoid personal injury or property damage
  • to cut back overgrowth

Start at the Top

Look for tree hazards by scanning the tree from top to bottom. Use binoculars if needed and check how vigorously the tree is growing. Compare its growth to others around it. Vigor is reflected in the amount of leaf cover, leaf size, color and condition. If the tree seems to be thinning or experiencing stunted growth, then it may not be flourishing as robustly as it should.

How Does the Trunk Look?

Continue your examination down the trunk of the tree. Look for forked trunks, which indicate potential weaknesses. Signs of decay may also be evident. These present themselves as cavities, cankers or conks (fruiting bodies of fungi) on the trunk itself.

Getting to the Bottom

Finally, check root zone of the tree. Look for mushrooms and other fungi that might be growing around the base of the tree. This is a sign the tree roots may be decaying. Construction and trenching are often causes of root damage, so protect your trees when work is done near them.

Make Your Cut Count

Pruning dead limbs is necessary to keep you and your property safe and it needs to be done properly. Make clean cuts with sharpened tools. Look for the “collar” or swollen tree flesh that develops where the dead limb joins the healthy section of tree. This is the tree’s natural defense system. Make your cut using a pruner or a chain saw just outside the collar, leaving as little stub as possible. Do not remove the collar because it is needed to fight any remaining disease.

Making Mulch and Firewood

Once you have examined your trees and removed the dead limbs, recycle the debris into mulch or firewood. Using a wood chipper, you can make easy work of breaking it all down. The size of the tree limbs determines the size of the chipper you will need. You can mix grass clippings in with your grind or even run the mixture through the chipper twice to get a finer mix. For larger tree limbs or stumps use a log splitter to cut the debris down to a usable size for the fireplace.

“Snag” a Place for Wildlife to Live

Food for thought – if a dead or dying tree does not pose a hazard to people or property – why not leave it as part of your landscape? “Snags” or wildlife trees are excellent habitats for a variety of species of animals. Birds and small mammals use snags for nests or storage areas. Woodpeckers feed off the insects in them and hawks use them as perches for hunting. Snags can also be created from living trees. An arborist would be able to help you select a good candidate for a snag in your yard. Snags provide hours of wildlife watching.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with all of your landscape projects. Check out some of our blog posts on how to remove a dead tree for more information on tree cutting, as well as a list of tools you might want to use in getting rid of tree limbs and trunks. If you have any other questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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