When I first bought my property nearly 19 years ago, I was thrilled with the woodland setting and adored my many deciduous trees. But then I was made aware of the ash borer, an uninvited pest from Asia, and I became distraught over the 24 ash trees on my property and their pending demise if left untreated.
I consulted an arborist and together we determined it made sense to protect 10 of the trees with regular injections, while removing the rest. Over the last several years I have been removing trees. Some of the ash trees I removed were quite large, which meant I had a lot of ash wood to deal with and that’s where I had to get creative.
With the first batch of ash trees removed, I asked Carlos Soler, a family friend and amazing woodworker to make wooden bowls for me with some of the remnants. Carlos did an amazing job and I cherish the bowls for their beauty, function and remembrance. You can find other artistic treasures made by Carlos by visiting his site on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/CSWoodworks1?ref=search_shop_redirect.
Of course I saved some of the wood for firewood and gave a bunch to friends for the same purpose. But I quickly realized only a certain amount of firewood could be used in a reasonable time without most of it rotting. I still had a lot of wood to manage.
During a visit to Cape Cod a couple of years ago, I saw an amazing natural arbor at a local botanic garden. I showed the photos of the arbor to local chain saw artist Marty Long who was able to translate my vision into reality with collected branches.
In addition to my arch, which now marks the entrance to my woodland trail and invites guests to meander, Marty made a bench for me which I enjoy regularly. Yes, I actually do sit down from time to time – hurray! My new bench provides a great vantage point of the water feature and the woodland trail and gives my friends and me a place to pause, relax and enjoy.
The last thing I have done with my ash trees is to leave some of them standing about 20 feet tall. This way they are not a hazard to garden visitors, can easily be taken down from the ground if they become a concern, and can benefit wildlife as they decay. Plus, it’s less expensive to take down a tree partially instead of completely!
My point is, when life gives you lemons, or an invasive pest like the ash borer, you need to find a way to make lemonade. If you have ash trees that need to be removed, let me know how you are dealing with the issue. I am confident if you look hard enough, you’ll find the silver lining and ways to use that wood that enhances the beauty of your garden, provides ecological benefits and more.
Other uses for some of the larger tree limbs or trunks: You can make a series of seats or pedestals by asking the tree service to make clean cuts perpendicular to the thrust of the trunk/limbs. While these won’t be permanent features in your garden since they will rot over time, they can provide fun and utility for a few years,
Pedestals cut in a variety of heights (from approx 12 to 30 inches) can be used to support ceramic pots or sculptures at just the right height in the garden. Or you can make an impromptu bird bath with a large platter or tray on a stump or wide pedestal slice. And you can gang a pair or trio to create focal compositions in a garden seasonally, when you may need them because foliage has declined (like native MayApple that goes summer dormant). I’ve seen seating circles made by a gathering of five or more tree trunks of approx 16 to 18 inches tall. If a natural look is not what you are after, the cut surfaces can be painted and sealed in a bold accent color.
Thanks for the additional ideas Eric – wonderful suggestions!
Love your bench!
Thanks so much Arlene – stop by and use it sometime!
Love your ideas!
Thanks Natasha, glad you found them to be valuable!
I love the bench and all the bowls, what a great idea!
So glad you like them. I try to be resourceful all the time.