Posts Tagged With: firewood

[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

Repurpose Yard Debris for Next Year’s Stockpile of Firewood

Stockpile Yard Debris for FirewoodThe reports are in — the last six months have been the coldest for much of the country in the last 100 years. That’s quite a statistic, extending from mid-fall in October all the way through this record-breaking winter that continues to whiteout snowfall totals, in addition to low temps.

Is there still a chance to save a little money on heating costs this year, or save up for next? Perhaps… if you have a fireplace, an insert or wood-burning stove, and a lot of fallen wood in your yard from all those winter storms.

During typical stormy weather, howling wind will knock dead tree branches to the ground, wood that could already be seasoned and used for fuel. Here’s how to tell if wood is ready to burn:

  • Dry wood is lighter in weight
  • Bark is dark or gray or missing, wood is whitish on the inside
  • Appears dry when freshly cut; cracked if already split
  • When tapped together, dry wood makes a hollow sound; wet wood makes a thud sound

Fallen limbs and tree debris can come in large pieces, so you’ll need to cut it down to size. Once you’ve gathered the stash, use a chainsaw to chop up long slender branches and medium-sized chunks to a size that fits easily into your fireplace or wood stove. If an entire tree has fallen, remove smaller branches right at the site, then use a log splitter to cut up the bigger trunk. You’ll probably work up a bit of sweat doing this kind of yard work – and make a bit of a mess, too – but nothing needs to go to waste. Rent a wood chipper and make mulch from all the little pieces. Your garden will thank you later this spring!

If the fallen debris is wet wood, cut it up anyway and stack it for use next winter. Proper seasoning takes at least a year, more if the stack is covered with a tarp, slowing moisture evaporation. The best-burning wood has been seasoned for two to three years.

Tips for Fireplace Efficiency

An open fireplace is no more than 15 percent efficient, because a huge amount of heat is lost up the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window slightly and close the doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. Here are a few more tips for increasing heating efficiency:

  1. stockpiled firewoodIf a fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue
  2. Keep fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning
  3. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible
  4. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room
  5. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room
  6. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth
  7. Install a fireplace insert or a wood-burning stove
    1. Placed partly into the fireplace, using the existing chimney to vent exhaust gases
    2. Placed in front of the fireplace (self-contained, free-standing units vented into the fireplace chimney)

Although it is finally warming up, and building a fire may not be as necessary anymore, why not use your yard debris for firewood and tinder next year? Stock pile it and then you have one less thing to worry about come October. If you have additional questions, contact us here. And, any other ideas for how to use yard debris? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

About the Author

Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.

Categories: Choosing Equipment, Gardening and Lawn Care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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