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What is a Dead Tree Worth?

Many people will say not much, it is dead, it cannot filter the air, it cannot produce any more for us. I, on the other hand, see great potential in what others call a waste. The Native Americans would use every part of a resource, letting nothing go to waste. This principal was repeated in my permaculture course. Recently I was able to take a trip to a friend’s farm and he had several trees that had been blown over. Here is my recap of what a dead tree is worth to me. Granted some uses may take time, as in drying firewood, but it all started with the single blown over tree. This single dead tree is worth roughly at least $2,220. There are probably other ways to break it down, but just as an example.

Firewood – $400

Firewood

In my area of suburbia dried split firewood runs for about $60-$80 a rick. Now some people claim a rick is 3×6 where the true rick is 4×8.. Dried, split, delivered, and stacked about $100/rick in my area. 3×6 prices and it would be $500. The particular tree we cut was about 4 true ricks’ worth of wood when split and stacked.

Heating offset – $800

Fireplace Insert

In suburbia we only have heat pump/electric heat. The first year we lived in the house that is all we used to heat. Our electricity bill was through the roof that winter. We then invested in a fireplace insert, which is about 80% efficient using the wood compared to the 20% of a normal fireplace. 20% is generous for most fireplaces. The 4 ricks of wood would last us about 2-3 months. With this single fireplace we are able to heat a 1,900 square foot home throughout the entire winter and never need the heat pump/electric heat.

Mushrooms – $800

Mushroom Log

Several of the branch logs can be stacked to make a mushroom colony. The going rate for dried oyster mushrooms is about $60/lb dried. The logs could produce for at least 2 years. If you get a more exotic variety of mushrooms then the profit from said mushrooms increases much more.

Mulch – $100

Mulch

The branches that are too small for firewood and leaves are sent through a shredder and used for gardening mulch. A few cubic yards could be gained from the tops of a tree.

Water reduction – $50

Water Reduction

Having a thicker layer of mulch around your plants reduces the need to water and external nutrients. This extra layer of mulch will help retain water, and reduce or eliminate the need to water your plants.

Mushroom Compost – $50

Mushroom Compost

After the mushrooms break down the log, the compost that is left is one of the best compost you can buy. All of the nutrients and minerals the tree has taken up and stored over its lifetime are broken down and now available for a new generation of plants.

Sawdust – $20

Sawdust

Yes even the wood chips left over from cutting up the tree can be worth something. Sawdust, combine with old candle wax, and you have a fire starter. Use sawdust in worm bins to produce compost tea, compost, and worms, cat litter, or use it as animal bedding, just to name a few. You do not want to use around any animals if the tree is a black walnut. There are toxic oils in the tree which can make animals sick or even kill them.

This is just one example of how we as a society could use our resources more effectively. I have learned so much with my experiences over the years and the additional benefit of permaculture educations. I would like to help you use this as well. The possibilities of what you can do with what are otherwise waste materials is huge. Old tires, pallets, plastic pop bottles are normally thrown out. You can reuse these materials. Your lawn that produces nothing but work for you. You have to mow, some people water it, and unfortunately many people put chemicals for weeds and fertilizer. Why not turn this wasted space, costing you money, into something that can produce food, or even income, for you.

About Rick Beach

Profile photo of Rick Beach
30+ year gardener although I lapsed for a few years. I currently reside in suburbia and have turned our 0.2 are property into a micro farm. We have 24 chickens, fruit trees, aqaponics, edible landscaping, water harvesting, worm composting, and a regular vegetable garden. We are working on bringing back to life a 6 acre farm that has been in the family for 150 years after 20 years of neglect. I have a background in pharmaceuticals, engineering, business and use these to the best of my ability helping my community. Recently completed Geoff Lawton's PDC and am applying what I learn at my own sites and advising others in and around my area. I teach and give classes in my area on just about anything I feel confident to speak about to get people thinking in a different direction. Gardening, canning, permaculture, aquaponics, water storage and purification, fire and fire starting, BOB's, community building, medicinal herbs, food storage, just to name a few. As much prepping related classes as people will listen to. We are a blended family and have four kids between us. 2-11 and it's challenges with different backgrounds and other parents houses. Some of this comes up in writings. Publisher of the website www.wolfbeachfarms.com and contribute to several other online, print, and e-magazines.

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9 comments

  1. Not to mention the burl wood being used for knife makers and pipe makers. A set of nice figured 1/4″ x 5″ x 2″ burl wood scales for a knife can sell for nearly $50 on websites like ebay. See it there all the time.

  2. I’m a lifelong city boy getting ready to move my family to the country where we’ll have a few acres. I’m definitely bookmarking this article!

  3. Not sure what a “rick” is but I have been burning and cutting wood and dealing with the sale of such for about 10 years and we always measure by the “Cord”, a cord is 4′ X 4′ X 8′(this is a three dem. measurement not just length and highth, or roughly a standard pickup bed full stacked 4′ high (not counting for air space). A well seasoned cord should hold an 1000 squre foot home for a month if using a semi effeceint stove and having a well insulated dwelling. This amount of goes for about $120.00. Think you should research the wood burning part a little better.

    • Profile photo of Rick Beach

      Most people in our area only sell a rick which really has no set dimensions. VERY few if any will sell a cord of wood. We are in a suburban area outside a major city. In the country where most people have easy access to wood and homes are 1000 sq ft or less, wood is much cheaper. Most homes in suburbia area are 1500+ feet where we are. Most people around here do not have an efficient wood burning stove, but only a fireplace which is very inefficient. Just like a 1000 sq ft home in California can go for $250,000 or more and in rural Kentucky for $25,000. Prices for things are regional.

  4. Round my area a ric (face cord) is 16 – 24in wide 4ft tall and 8ft long a full cord is 4ft wide 4ft high 8ft long

  5. A “cord” of wood is 4’x4’x8′, or 128 cubic feet. A “rick” is one half a cord, or 2’x2’x4′.

  6. I like this in general, but had two issues, the first was about the use of rick vs cord but that was addressed above. the second is on your estimated mushroom prices. I grow my own shitakes and oysters. I wish you were right but you’d be lucky to get half of that whole sale. I don’t sell mine, I grow them for fun (I wanted to “garden” in the shady side of my suburban lot as well). Anyway, a 4oz pack of dried oyster mushrooms is $6 at wegmans (last I checked). That’s $24 for the lb, and that’s retail and buying in small quantities. Anyway, still like your overall idea. Cheers.

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