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What to do with rotting wood? Cool ideas for woodland area?

15 years ago

I am reclaiming a woodland area behind my home. We have lived in the home for two years and are finally getting behind the fence to what my five-year-old calls the "jungle". I have started eradicating the ivy and am trying to plant more trees and some native bushes. I have also started to take out some "trash trees" that are not native and seem to take over everything.

The previous owners loved to jump trash, yard debris, and lots of other stuff back here. I am currently trying to rake blackberry canes that we have killed, remove garbage (I have found numerous glass bottles, pool hoses, cement urns, astroturf), and burn what I can of the debris.

The good news is that after years of neglect the soil is beautiful...the bad news is I have a long way to go. Eventually, we hope to fence in our property and maintain a bird habitat with all native plants and trees. We also hope to build an outdoor fireplace in a clearning so we can enjoy our views.

So here is my question...what do I do with all the rotting wood that is lying all over the place? Some of it I plan on keeping for critters, but the old owners also have piles of firewood that have now pretty much rotted to sawdust. I am trying to break them down as much as possible, but it just seems like I keep finding it all over the place. Any good ideas? This area is difficult to get to (we would have to go through a gate, around our pool, through our backyard, up stairs, down the RV parking pad and then to the driveway) and hauling anything out is a huge chore. I could take it and toss it over the property line onto what the city now owns which is tempting since it would make it even more difficult for tresspassers to get near our property, but I feel like that wouldn't be right. Any other cool things you have done that you would like to share?

Comments (10)

  • Demeter
    15 years ago

    Rotting wood is supposed to happen in a forest, isn't it? That's what happens when trees and branches fall. I'd break up what's far enough gone, leave the sawdust and small pieces where they are to finish breaking down, then take the larger bits and maybe stack them near that property line to keep the trespassers out but have it still be on your side. If there are any that are still in good sized pieces, you could use them to outline beds for appropriate plantings. Generally, let the natural processes finish it.

  • maifleur01
    15 years ago

    Think of it as wood compost. Use to mulch your plants and or mix with your soil to lighten it. Depending on the degree of decomposition you may need to add nitrogen to the soil because the process ties up the usable nitrogen until the process is complete.

  • fatamorgana2121
    15 years ago

    If you have some reasonable (not totally punky or rotten) logs and stumps, you can get some mushroom spawn plugs. The ones I've seen available aren't native fungi but it is something you could try if you have wood to do it. There are choice edible and medicinal varieties available. I have also seen morel kits available. They are a native variety that are highly prized. Just an idea. I included a link to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Territorial Seed - Mushroom kits & Plugs

  • waplummer
    15 years ago

    Start a compost bin. It will take many years for the wood to rot, but if you reduce the size of the pieces that will help. If you can rent a chipper that will really help speed the process. Alos if you cover the wood with soil it will rot faster.

  • vegangirl
    15 years ago

    If it's hardwood, that rotting wood is called "hardwood fines" (I learned that recently!) and is what trilliums and other woodland natives love. Whatever you do, don't get rid of it. Use it for your special woodland plants.

  • jel48
    15 years ago

    Another benefit of the rotting wood, is that it may attract woodpeckers to your property, as well as other birds and small animals.

  • bob64
    15 years ago

    Fence posts, trail markers, benches, borders for planting beds and paths and property lines, are a few items.
    You could also drill holes in the wood as homes for solitary native bees. The really rotten crumbly stuff can be left as is or used as mulch.

  • terrene
    15 years ago

    I also have a lot of wood, brush piles, and dead vines everywhere in various stages of decay. Leftover from tree work and the removal of invasive plants. Sometimes I smash it or stomp on it to break it up and decay faster. It's kind of messy but it's in the back, not really obvious to the neighbors, and the wildlife loves messy places.

    Someone mentioned creating piles near your property line - you could make wildlife brushpiles with the larger pieces of wood at the bottom, piling up progressively smaller brush, then top with evergreen boughs to make an excellent wildlife habitat. Use brush from sticker bushes - Rosa multiflora, Barberry, etc. if you want to keep people or deer out. I've found that the birds are very attracted to brushpiles.

    If you have any larger logs you can "plant" a dead tree - set the log upright into a hole in the ground (like a fencepost) and this provides food and habitat for woodpeckers and other cavity nesters.

  • ladyslppr
    15 years ago

    I have piles of rotting firewood in the woods, and various creatures like chipmunks, deer mice, Carolina Wrens, etc. use the piles as habitat.