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Each week, Diane Rixon brings you Avant Yard, a look at all your lawn and garden could be. Diane shows you how to give life to everything inside your fence. We promise that your yard will be the greener "other side" and the neighbor's envy to boot. Alright, we don't really promise, but you get the idea.

Is there a dead tree in your yard? Let it live on -- repurpose it! Here are a bunch of suggestions, with an emphasis on projects that are both easy and inexpensive.

LEAVE IT ALONE
1. Leave it standing. If it's not a danger to people or structures on your property, of course. Let it be a home for birds, bugs and assorted critters.
2. Leave it standing and turn it into yard art -- hang colored bottles from the branches or string it with colored lights that change with the season.

CUT IT UP
3. Use planks for fencing.
4. Build a big brush pile, which is a fantastic refuge for wildlife.
5. Use it for garden mulch. You will need to hire a mulching machine or mulching service for this, however.

6. Use it for firewood and/or kindling.
7. Cut small sticks for garden markers.
8. Cut longer poles for garden stakes.
9. Use logs or planks to edge garden beds or walkways.
10. Bury logs or planks along your fenceline to discourage escape-artist-dogs from digging out.
11. Use logs or planks to construct a compost bin or enclosure.
12. Use cross section "slices" of the trunk as garden stepping stones. Sprinkle with sand or fine gravel to make them non-slip.
13. Use small blocks to lift planter pots up off the ground, encouraging proper drainage.

FEED THE BIRDS
14. Trunk cross sections can be used as seed platforms for ground-feeding birds like Mourning Doves. Such simple platforms prevent spilled seeds from germinating in your garden bed or your lawn. Tip: drill holes to encourage rainwater drainage.
15. Create a hanging feeder for fruit-loving birds like orioles. Put a nail through a cross section and hang it from a branch or pergola. For hanging, drill three holes around the outside edge of the wood and attach short lengths of chain. Hang the feeder so the nail points upwards, and impale apples or oranges on its point.
16. In winter, smear peanut butter or softened suet around a small section of branch and hang it up from a length of wire, chain or rope.
17. Make a birdbath. Using a hammer and chisel, hollow a shallow indentation into the stump or a big section of trunk. Let dry, then seal with a layer of concrete. Allow to cure before filling with water.
18. Build a bird nesting box. Find appropriate dimensions before you start cutting.

WOODWORKING PROJECTS
19. Build a charming, rough-hewn bench using a plank for the seat and branches for the legs. See my photo (above) for an example of what the finished product might look like.
20. Build a swing seat for the garden or your patio.
21. Use the stump or large sections of trunk as rustic garden seats. Or clean them up, sand them very thoroughly, varnish them, and bring them indoors. Your very own stylish seats or coffee tables. Believe it or not, Pottery Barn is trying to sell this very thing for $249 each? I am not making this up!
22. Make a garden swing for your kids.

SWEET & SIMPLE CRAFTS
23. Cut small shapes or letters to create a stamp set for your kids, to be used with an ink pad or paints.
24. Cut small shapes or letters and glue small magnets to the reverse sides for a rustic fridge magnet set.

YARD ART
25. Create an unusual privacy screen. Attach thin cross sections of trunk to a section of fencing wire or sturdy mesh. Think of them as giant polka dots. Paint them for extra pizazz or leave them naturally naked.
26. Make a whimsical "face" using a cross section of trunk as the face, with small pieces of other tree or yard debris as facial features. For example, pinecones or pineneedles for hair, stones for eyes, etc.
27. Cut star shapes and hang them from tree branches or your pergola. Add some lightweight pieces of pipe to turn them into wind chimes.
28. Create your very own work of sculpture, carved from the stump or a large section of the trunk.
29. Make an eye-catching plant container. Carve an indentation into the stump or a large section of trunk. Plant with easy-care annuals like pansies or impatiens. Take care not to overwater, unless you are able to drill drainage holes somewhere.
30. Forget the carving and simply use the stump or a section of trunk as a rustic pedestal for a container of annuals.

  • Tammi

    I am trying to find someone who would remove approximately 10 - 30+ft oak trees from my yard. These trees would make beautiful beams or other furniture. They have died from oak decline but are solid, sturdy and very tall. I have looked all over. Recycling is an option, but I hate to see this beautiful wood shredded and not used for something equally as beautiful.

    Reply
  • Diane Rixon

    It would be a shame to waste such beautiful wood, Tammi. Have you contacted local woodworking hobbyists, woodturners, cabinetmakers? You never know who might know someone who would like them. Or you could try putting an ad on Craigslist. Good luck!


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