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Question DetailsAsked on 2/3/2018

What is the best way to dispose of large amount of wood from trees cut down?

Because of costs the contractor cut down four 60-70ft tall poplars and left the large wood. Most is too long or large diameter for a fireplace. Is it worth renting equipment to cut and split the large wood or is it more cost efficient to try to sell as is, or alternatively list for free as is? We would like to recover some costs if possible.

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Voted Best Answer

I would not count on recovering your costs - I would be looking at the cheapest way to dispose of them.

Splitting, even with a power splitter, is a LOT of work especially with a soft and wet wood like that (when freshly cut), plus you would have to cut to fireplace length, and most splitters can not handle very large diameter pieces even if you could get them up on it. And poplar - especially the "cottonwood" varieties - are not valued for firewood. Many firewood dealers will not even attempt to sell it unless they sell campfire/fire pit wood in bulk. Does burn decently if dry but soaks up water like crazy in woodpiles, has to be dry to burn without smoking a lot, and burns quite fast so not a good fireplace log in general.

If true Eastern Poplar or "Green" Poplar, you might be able (if accessible and you would not mind a truck driving on your property to get to the logs) to google for local small sawmills or log buyers, if these were cut to sawmill length - generally have to be about 12-16" in diameter or more for that species, and certainly not less than 8' lengths - most mills prefer about 17' or 25' lengths. Don't expect much money if any - poplar is sometimes used as a furniture wood, but usually not as the prime exposed wood - usually used for the concealed frames of upholstered sofas and easychairs and such. Rarely used for studs but not approved for that use for structural purposes, so generally only available as off-grade shed wood. Also sometimes, with very straight trees, for cheap plywood veneer for poplar interior panelling, or in some areas for interior grade plywood layers. Also sometimes used in modular home construction for frames for cabinets and seating and such.

You can find a lot of previous questions about getting someone to come take wood away for you - hard enough to give away for free unless cut and stacked by the sidewalk (where a stack with a free sign will usually make it go away pretty fast), and generally very hard to get any $ for it unless a valuable wood like oak commonly sawn in your area.

Look in the Lawn & Garden > Tree Service link, under Browse Projects, at lower left - and pay attention to the commentaries on exposing yourself to liability if an uninsured contractor or member of the public comes to cut and remove it. At least in your case the felling risk is gone, but chainsaw accidents, injured backs, logs dropped on someone handling them, etc is still a significant risk to you. Particularly if you are getting paid for it, because that makes it a commercial operation so your homeowner's insurance will commonly NOT cover you against any claims from that sort of incident.

Other options if suitable for your case/allowed in your area:

1) use the logs as planter wall or slope protection revetment structure (though LOUSY wood for that purpose - will be quite short-lived, shorter than even pine in most cases),

2) if you have a "rustic" area available and do not have carpenter ants/termites/ground squirrels/rattlesnakes in your area (to keep it from becoming a nesting ground) you could just stack them and let them rot away - maybe plant some berry bushes around them to grow up and conceal the stack. Course, getting them into a stack could be tough.

3) Chipping for disposal or mulch sounds like it is out of the question if large in diameter - while the wood is soft so easy to chip, the commonly available towable chippers only handle about 24-27" diameter. There are ones capable of up to entire 4 foot trees with about 1000HP motors, but they are not economic for a small job - they are used for major land-clearing jobs only, with an attached crane truck or separate crane handling the tree, and run about $500 per hour or more.

4) just drag/roll them to the property line as a property line barrier, being sure to block them well against rolling, and bearing in mind they will become insect and mushroom/toadstool/ fungus havens as they rot.

5) stack and let them dry somewhat, then burn them in place - though if the more open-pore "cottonwood" or "alamo" varieties they soak up water very easy from rain once the bark is breached by rotting, so may require putting a tarp over them (leaving airflow space underneath for airflow while drying for 6-12 months) or using fuel on them to even get them to burn effectively. Not legal in many areas, and don't let the ground get contaminated by the fuel if used.

Here are a couple of those pertinent links:

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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