What To Do With Cut Tree Branches
I LOVE TREES! Trees provide shade, beauty, a refuge for birds and so much more. But trees aren’t always perfect in their natural form. If you find yourself in need of trimming your trees you can find out how we did it by reading Trimming Cedar Trees. After you have trimmed your trees, and taken a few days to rest, you will need to decide what to do with all of the tree branches.
Cleaning Up Your Mess
Now that you have sculpted masterpieces you will need to clean up. I have mentioned in several of my posts that my goal in sharing our story is to help you maximize your efficiency by avoiding our mistakes. So let me tell you what NOT to do when cleaning up your mess.
Do NOT move your branches more than once. When we began to clean up around the first tree, we piled the branches onto the bed of our Kawasaki Mule. We drove to the back of our 10 acres and dumped the branches into a burn pile. Then drove back to the front of our 10 acres and repeated the process.
Branches fell out along the way, so we picked them up again. There were some branches that we moved four times! The clean-up of that first tree took hours, and we still haven’t burned the pile. It is too far away from a water source so we can’t get a permit to burn it. So it will have to be moved AGAIN.
Work Smarter Not Harder
The better method was to let the Mule do all the work. First, we hooked a chain to our Mule. We chose the largest branch as our base then drug more branches onto the top of the base. Next, we ran a chain through the branches and hooked it to the Mule. Finally, we drove it to a burn pile that was close to our water pump. Once it was in the correct location, we took the chain off and drove away.
- Choose a large branch as your base
- Pile smaller branches on top of the base
- Attach a chain to your UTV, truck, lawnmower, etc.
- Run the other end of the chain through the base branches
- Drive the branches to your burn pile location
- Unhook the branches from the chain
We repeated these steps until it all of the branches had been moved. Each time we just drove the pile right up next to the previous ones. After we moved all of the branches we used the front end loader of the tractor to push the pile together to get it ready to burn.
Hauling Off Branches
You may not have the space available to burn your brush. Or you may not want to. You do have the option to haul it off. Many companies will haul off yard debris for a fee, but it can be expensive if you have a large pile or live far away from their service area. If you are looking for a more affordable option, you could load the branches onto a trailer or into the bed of a truck and take it to a dump.
My original goal was to use the branches for mulch. I did some research on cedar mulch and got some conflicting thoughts on whether it was good or bad.
I will say that the area under one of the trees contained a lot of fallen needles. There is almost nothing growing under that tree. However, several times we have mowed the area under the trees that didn’t have as many needles. So you may want to let the branches die and collect the needles from them to use as a mulch.
You could also rent a wood chipper and cut up all of the branches. This could benefit you in several ways. You get free mulch that you can use around the trees or in a flower bed. My research revealed you shouldn’t use cedar mulch in a vegetable garden.
If you don’t need mulch but you don’t want to waste the branches by burning them you could sell the mulch. Placing an ad on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace would be a great option to make back the money you spent on the wood chipper rental.
We opted to burn our pile. It was within view of our back windows, and we had too many other projects going on to take the time to run the branches through a wood chipper. Check with your local fire department to find out the steps you need to take in order to burn your pile.
I also recommend checking with them BEFORE you begin, to find out how far away from structures your pile needs to be. You also need to know how close to water your pile needs to be. Our pile was about 50 feet too close to our work building, so we had to push it out further with the tractor.
We called our local Fire Marshal and scheduled a time for him to come and inspect our pile. After making his recommendations he gave us a permit that was good for 60 days. We had to call a number at 10 am on the morning that we wanted to burn to find out if it was a permitted burn day.
Make sure that you follow all of the rules outlined in your permit. Be prepared with a plan because cedar trees burn fast so be careful. These pictures were taken 10 minutes apart.
Enjoy Your New Trees
Have you been the victim of an incomplete project like me? I cringe every time I look at the huge heap of branches that we moved from the first tree that we trimmed. I have to tell myself that “one day” I will get around to moving them to the front of the property so that we can burn them. Hopefully one of these removal methods works for you so that you can fully enjoy your new trees.
My next project is to plant some Hostas, Hyacinth and Crocus around the base of the newly trimmed trees.