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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone

I have a few questions about wood and tree maintenance.

There are a couple of dead trees in the pasture area of the place we just bought. We won't have our horses there for a couple of years, and the people who will be renting the place don't have any animals. Would you all recommend having the trees cut down, or just waiting to see if they fall and rot?

The previous owners left random piles of dead wood all over the place. We're in the PNW. Will these piles just rot and disappear in the next few years, or will I need to remove them? In Texas, I compost this stuff, but I've got a really good compost pile going and it just devours everything I feed into it. I'm not sure what happens if you just leave it as piles of wood.

There are a number of stumps here and there. Height ranges from 18 inches to four feet. Will those present a danger to the horses? I feel like, at least the big ones, they can see and avoid. Also how long does it take stumps to decompose? I'm wondering if I can just leave them and not worry about them.

ETA: Also, does anyone have a make / model of wood chipper that they recommend?

Thanks!
 

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My pasture is full of stumps because the previous owner wouldn't pay to have them removed when he had the place thinned. My horses don't seem to care and they use the taller ones as scratching posts. Never had a problem with them. the only reason I don't like them is they take up space where grass could be growing. You can also burn stumps down into the ground with a 55 gallon drum if you set it up correctly and the stump isn't too big in diameter. I would not recommend grinding as it is SUPER expensive to hire a company to come do it for you.

Dead trees should be cut down and cut up into firewood or whatever you want to do with them. Just don't leave them standing as they are a hazard any time you get a storm.

Dead wood will eventually rot but it takes a loooooong time, even in the PNW rain if the chunks of wood have any size to them. Tarp the piles for a year so they get really dry and then burn them. Or you can run them through a chipper on the smallest size it will do and then compost them or put them down on paths/roads around your place. Wood chips take forever to compost and they suck all the moisture out of your compost so you have to make sure you keep your pile wet enough. It is a lot easier to burn slash but if you must wood chip it then putting it down on paths and around trees for your landscaping is usually easier than composting it.
 

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Depends on the wood and the humidity in your area. Dead wood can lay around for years and years without rotting in a drier area.

Our property was shellacked by a tornado in 2011 (6 months before we bought it). We get a lot of humidity, btw.

There are still dead oaks standing tall, still tons of brush piles formed from the broken limbs. They show no sign of rotting away any time soon.

We bought a CAT dozer and hired an operator to clear most of it. We still have 40 acres left untouched and it's an absolute disaster of broken trees, standing dead trees, and piles of downed tree limbs. The piles he pushed up were big as houses... then we had to burn them. Fortunately, Hubs is on the fire department. So they all came out and helped with the controlled burn.

5 years ago, an oak was struck by lightning in Trigger's pasture. It died in weeks. Except for a few limbs that have blown out of it, it's still completely intact and standing tall.
 
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Depending on the area it might be cheaper to hire a landscaper that has an industrial grade chipper/shredder to come in and do the chipping for you. A really good industrial grade chipper/shredder can run $10K - $20K and if you only have a few days worth of piles to chip, hiring somebody to come do it can be a lot cheaper than trying to buy your own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@AndyTheCornbread I've thought about paying someone to do that. However, this place is 10 acres and maybe three-four acres of that is wooded with very shed-y trees, so I was thinking maybe I could just get a mid-range chipper, mulch what I can throughout the year, and then lay the mulch back down in the woody areas to try to keep the brush down back there. The people who we bought the place from seem to have also made piles of wood chips in places, and those piles seem to be strangling the grass. Which stinks, because they are in places where I want grass to grow, but maybe I can use it to my advantage in the wooded parts. My dad had (maybe still has, I'm going to ask) a wood chipper, and when we lived on a two-acre wooded lot I remember that thing getting plenty of use.

I need to talk to an arborist, but apparently around here, with this sort of manicured woodlands, people "limb" the trees, which I think means they remove the lower branches so they aren't so scraggly, and so some light can get in. That might be another use for the wood chipper.

So you guys think I should pay to have the dead trees cut down, even though the pasture area isn't being used now? That's what I was going to do at first; then I thought why should I bother, they'll fall down on their own eventually, and no one is out there right now so it won't bother anyone.

I guess I will keep an eye on the wood piles. It's going to be a few years before we're out there anyways, so maybe they will just take care of themselves. Maybe I could go out there with a small battery powered chain saw and try to cut them up a little to speed up the process?
 

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Dead needs to be cut down, cut into managable size pieces and stacked and dried if good for firewood or piled and burned if not. Chipping the smaller stuff and laying down in the woods discourages brush but won't get rid of it. Having the woods thinned so there are more open areas and then thinning the crowns of what is left to let light in can help. An expensive process if you hire out and not always done in the way you imagine if you are not on hand to supervise. Stumps if left should be tall enough not to injure your animals but short enough not to be rubbing posts or straddled to rub tummies that are itchy. If they are ground then they will eventually return as stump holes. Very dangerous. With the stump the horse sees it and avoids it.You can monitor the decaying process and remove it at a time it can be easily chained and pulled then have on hand a (LARGE) pile of dirt for back filling. Anything small diameter enough to be pulled out just cut, chain and pull the stump. That size will vary depending on the size equipment you own and time you have to just go out and do that.



We hired out for the back pasture and had them leave a few copse of trees. They piled all the rest and removed every stump. We then plowed and burned. We still have stump holes come up because of a pine stand that was cut for timber off this acreage 75 years before we moved onto it and that wasn't done. Everything was ground to level and left with what grew up as woods that we then had to deal with. No fun. The wooded area we have thinned over time and take advantage of soft ground to pull larger than we typically would. Makes it easy to keep brush hogged when there is space between. We then limb up (remove lower limbs to make trees safe to walk, ride or mow under) and as someone with training under an arborist I will thin out crowns I am comfortable with.
 

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If the dead trees are Douglas fir and of decent size just put an add on Craiglist that if somebody cuts them up for you they can have the firewood. If they are **** fir or cottonwood or something equally useless for firewood then just put them on your burn pile when you go to burn up all that slash. You really shouldn't have to pay to get somebody to come cut up dead trees if they are of decent quality for firewood.
 

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If you have many trees down but not piled I would think contacting a tree company to come in and harvest what they may want for firewood they would take down and away to sell, then pile the refuse and burn it...
Here where I live, if a private individual you are required to take a course in how to set/place the logs, pick the day and weather conditions to burn in, have a permit with burning day so fire officials are knowledgeable about the increased risk and then have suitable equipment and manpower in attendance when the burn takes place.
Bonfires can be huge in size of how high and wide with proper equipment present...and those fires are often fed more logs as the fire devours what has been placed on the inferno.
Remember those trees currently down are a haven for snakes, dangerous spiders and wildlife to live among...be very careful wandering through, digging, pulling apart...hence professionals may need consulted for safety reasons too.
Do you have bears in that area???

I would not leave trees to purposely fall anywhere widow makers could occur along with take out your current buildings, or property line fences.
Trees left leaning or with hanging branches are to dangerous and need taken care of by professionals so they are removed safely.
Burning of or grinding...I would rather just have them yanked and hole filled as rotting, burned leaves a hole someone, something, or a unsuspecting future animal can fall into a large chasm and be lost to injury and death...big trees leave big holes when they rot.
Whether burned or cut over time the remnant rots...hence yank them and burn them to be done with it now once and for all.
Clearing land carefully picking what stays and what goes will actually open the tree canopy and give you healthier ground for pasture growth and properly thinned trees are healthier, stronger and withstand storms better than a forest of over-populated and stressed trees.
An arborist, certified is one to consult about felling trees...
:runninghorse2:....
jmo..
 
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