rotten tree round

Can You Turn Your Dying Backyard Tree Into Lumber?

Reusing and recycling materials and goods is now more essential than ever. It is said that recycling 10,000 tonnes of waste will create 36 jobs, whereas sending the same weight to a landfill will help employ just 6 individuals.

Yet, it isn’t just job creation that repurposing and recycling help with. Finding ways to repurpose and reuse all manner of waste means fewer raw materials are used, and in turn, less pollution and emission are created.

rotten tree lumber

Wood is both renewable and natural. As long as it comes from a sustainable source, and uses eco-friendly manufacturing processes, wood is a far greener material than plastic for example. DIY enthusiasts and interior designers understand how to be eco-friendly with wood at home. And with some imagination, you can upcycle anything from old furniture, to perhaps that dying tree in your garden.

Can you turn a dying tree into lumber?

Dead trees can present a hazard in any garden. Limbs can fall, especially during storms or high winds, and they can spread disease to other parts of your garden. If you have a dead tree you should have it removed professionally to keep from damaging nearby buildings.

However, dead and dying trees still have their purposes. Dying trees in particular may last for several more years and pose no problems as long as you have regular inspections.

But, dead trees can be turned into lumber depending on their condition. When you have a standing dead tree you will have to have it felled before you can see if the wood can be reused. It will need to be cut into logs, debarked, and taken to a mill for curing or drying.

Why would you want to turn a dying tree into lumber?

Lumber prices dropped dramatically in 2022, which could lead you to wonder why you should worry about turning dead wood into usable lumber. Well, already 2023 has seen lumber prices rise 14%, and a shortage could mean further price hikes during the year.

Then there are the environmental benefits of using dead trees for another use instead of just burning them. Many DIY enthusiasts and carpenters will see great benefits from being able to make lumber from a dying tree in their own backyard or that of a neighbor.

Even if you can’t turn your tree into usable lumber because of disease or poor condition, you will still need to remove it at some point. Identifying dying trees for lumber is one thing, spotting one that needs to be felled is something else.

How do you turn your dying tree into lumber?

You will need professional help here. Understanding when to remove a tree is best done by someone qualified and experienced. If you wish to turn your dead tree into lumber then it will need to be taken down in sections, which can take a few days.

Boards need to be cut from the logs, and this is known as milling. If you feel sufficiently skilled in this area then you can use a sawmill to make your own boards. Next, the wood needs to dry.

Custom built shed or workshop

Many will use a local wood mill to have their boards dried in a kiln. However, it is possible to dry it at home. You could plan to make a shed on a budget, but don’t be in a hurry though. This drying process takes a year or more before the wood becomes ready to use.

What other uses are there for your dying tree?

Not everyone is a fan of DIY or carpentry, yet there are other options for your dead or dying tree. The wood from the tree can be turned into wood chips, mulch, wood pellets, and firewood, as well as furniture.

Being able to make something such as a table from your tree will create a lasting piece with a great story attached. Nonetheless, the wood may not be suitable for this purpose.

While not everyone agrees, wood can be a green source of energy. The EPA declared wood to be carbon neutral, so potentially using your dead tree to heat your home and to cook with will be eco-friendly. Alternatively, use the tree to decorate your garden with some inventive landscaping, or create a path with discs cut from the trunk or branches.


Trees have to be removed when they die as they can pose many potential risks to your health and the immediate environment. Dead trees attract pests and insects, and they can fall over too.

Yet, a dead or dying tree when identified correctly can be used to create lumber. This can then be turned into a highly personal piece of furniture, or used to create a garden feature such as decking. Just don’t get too excited and start picking out healthy trees for your carpentry projects.

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