• Timber & Salt Team

The Benefits of Using Nuisance Trees

Building - whether it's a new house or a renovation - is one of the worst offenders when it comes to creating waste materials and racking up a massive carbon footprint (the result of shipping materials from one end of the Earth to another, deforestation and unsustainable logging practices, bad for the environment and bad for your health toxins in finishes and other glues... the list goes on.)


One way to keep your carbon footprint in check is to consider using more locally sourced materials, especially from nuisance trees. Here's a little primer on what mean by nuisance tree, why we use them and their benefits:


What Are Nuisance Trees:

Trees are a vital and beautiful component of our ecosystems and we hate to see them taken down but sometimes it's unavoidable. Trees that are either taken down or have fallen are often referred to as nuisance trees. They are usually:

  • Trees with branches or roots encroaching on other structures

  • Trees that have been damaged during weather events

  • Trees that need to be removed for safety in inhabited spaces

This farmhouse table was built from a cherry tree in this family's backyard that we milled and dried in our solar kiln.
Cherry Farmhouse Table

Why Do We Use Nuisance Trees:

As a guiding principle we do not forest or harvest timber for our projects. We bring the mindset of ‘resource salvage’ to our work and aim to network with local arborists to source materials. There is a nobility inherent in taking something that is a waste product and bringing out a new and unexpected purpose.


Nuisance Tree Benefits - Carbon Cycles:

Many fold. Once that tree is cut, its role in the carbon cycle has changed from one of capturing carbon to one of decomposition. Instead of just chipping or dumping that material to release its stored carbon content we aim to prolong its capture by moving that into a stable product.


Nuisance Tree Benefits - Carbon Footprint:

Utilizing a local resource such as a felled tree from a house lot, or storm damaged hazard tree has an inherently small carbon footprint. We take over the process either on site with a mobile mill, transport via our trailer, or receive delivery from a local arborist. From tree to milled board might be the minuscule distance of your yard, or longest perhaps several miles. If we dry the boards with our solar kiln, with occasional auxiliary heat from mill offcuts, the carbon footprint of that raw material is exceptionally low. Compare that to traditional lumber practices and the amount of energy involved in cutting, logging, milling, drying, transporting, and sales.


Nuisance Tree Benefits - Character and Beauty:

The trees that come through our mill often have a story, people loved them, lived under them, and bore witness to their growth. Often folks don’t anticipate being able to do anything other than turn these trees into firewood, if that! However, the unique character and features of these urban trees can produce some of the most beautiful wood, wood you literally cannot buy; you have to grow it!


Nuisance Tree Benefits - Personal and Foundational:

When clients work with us to repurpose trees from a job of their own, or we stop at a tree work operation, or salvage a down tree there is a sense of purpose and excitement that stems from that project. When folks know where their table came from, literally where it grew, there is a deep sense of satisfaction that permeates their relationship with that product. It is this relationship that brings us joy in the building process, and something that we hope our work continues to enhance in others.

Fraser works on a pine board right off our mill.
A pine board from a local nuisance tree.





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