Do it Yourself

6 Ways to Upcycle Dead Trees

By Sheereen Othman | October 13, 2016

There will be a time when your tree fulfills all that it could in its active lifetime: giving shade, wind cover, privacy, food and so much more. But the death of a tree doesn’t mean that it can’t reincarnate for other purposes. Here are 6 ways to bring life back to your dead tree.

Woodchips, Mulch & Firewood

The most obvious—and easiest—use you can get out of your dead tree is to chip it down into woodchips or mulch that can be used to landscape and garden, or split it into firewood. Mulch offers numerous benefits to trees including protection, moisture and appeal. If you don’t own a wood chipper you may be able to rent one from a hardware store. There may be hard work and labor put into splitting and stacking your own firewood, but the satisfaction of cutting it yourself is rewarding.

Read up on the value and importance of mulch here and here.

Wildlife Nesting Site

Many dead trees can stay standing without posing a threat to safety. With the exception of ash trees that become more brittle once they’re dead and risk falling, you can leave your tree standing and let wildlife such as birds and squirrels nestle in it. If you choose to cut the tree down, you can turn the branches into a bee hotel by drilling holes into the sides.


If your tree has a valuable sawlog worth milling, you may consider turning it into lumber to use in home projects. By using wood from trees that need to be removed you’re reducing waste and conserving forest resources. Some local mill operators may even bring a portable sawmill directly to your home. Visit your County Extension office or county Conservation District forester for a list of local sawmill operations.

Landscape Design

Dead tree wood doesn’t need to be limited to mulch or woodchips to be used for landscaping. You can find a myriad of ways to use it creatively and add artistic appeal to your property including carving, painting and fencing. Painting medium sized trees are a simple way of adding character and color to your landscape. Consider Glow in the Dark paint for extra fun. If you choose to cut the tree(s) down you can lay the trunks on the side to fence in a garden and maintain a natural appearance to your backyard design. Or leave it as is and carve awesome art out of the wood.  


Most furniture is made of wood, so why not craft your own pieces? Stumps can be used as side tables, coffee tables, benches, coasters and so much more. Hollowing out stumps makes for natural planters and branches are great for shelving.

Tree Path/Walkway

Trade the typical stone pathways in for tree cookies. Tree cookies are thinly crosscut sections of wood laid out in a walkway, generally over mulch or other materials to hold them in place. If you’re worried about the wood rotting, seal them in to retain the wood grain look.  It’s an inexpensive way to pave a path.

Beautiful design garden paths. Paving saw cuts wood oak

If you don’t need the wood and have no interest in upcycling it, you can dispose of your dead tree at a local disposal site.


Have you upcycled a dead tree before? Let us know how below!

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  • Reply Susan James October 13, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    What kind of bird is that?

  • Reply Jill Miller October 15, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I just had a couple of 8″ oaks cut down. I’m planning to use parts of them for growing shiitaki mushrooms.

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