Selling Yard Trees

trees in suburban neighborhood
We get many calls from customers inquiring about selling trees in their yard. Sometimes these customers have Ash trees that are dying from the Emerald Ash Borer and would like them removed. Other times these customers have Walnut trees and have heard that they can be quite valuable. When faced with these sorts of calls, the short answer to whether or not logging companies such as Timber Works buy yard-trees (sometimes called Urban trees) is no. There are a number of reasons timber buyers steer clear of yard trees that pertain to both the quantity of trees available in an urban setting as well as their quality.

Urban Trees Often Contain Foreign Objects

Trees that grow in an urban setting are often riddled with foreign objects, especially metal such as nails, screws and bolts. The presence of metal causes the surrounding fiber of the tree to be stained dark blue or black. More significantly, the metal poses a potentially costly threat to the sawmill that will be cutting the tree into dimensional lumber and other wood products such as flooring or hardwood slabs. Though it happens occasionally even with trees that have been harvested from the forest, the presence of metal occurs much more frequently in trees that have been taken from an Urban setting. When a sawmill hits a metal object, the blade on the saw will at the very least have teeth sheared off, rendering this particular blade ineffective at cutting and delaying the mills production cycle because the sawing will have to stop until a fresh blade has been installed. The sheared blade will have to be re-tipped by a professional, adding cost and taking the blade out of production for an extended period of time.

In the most severe instance, the metal object will destroy the blade completely, potentially costing the mill hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In fact, the value of a typical sawmill blade will far exceed the value of nearly any tree that sawmill would cut.

If the mill is observant and lucky, they will notice the tell-tale stain caused by metal objects before any damage occurs. Still, removing the metal will take time and reduce the productivity of the mill significantly. The bottom line is that logs containing metal cost sawmills time and money, and for this reason log buyers work diligently to avoid them.

Urban Trees are of Low Quality

The other problem with yard trees is that they are often of low quality. When a tree grows under a dense canopy, it must reach for light, focusing growth upward rather than outward. Trees that grow in a neighborhood or in a yard spread out much more than a similar tree that grows in a woods. As a result, they put on branches lower down the trunk, meaning a much smaller percentage of these trees will cut into "grade lumber," or lumber that contains limited or no knots or defects in the finished boards. Further, urban trees grow much faster than trees in a thickly wooded area. This results in lumber that is less dense, more porous, and in general of lower quality than a tree whose rate of growth was slower.

Removing Urban Trees is Costly for a Logging Company

Logging companies rarely have the specialized equipment, not to mention proper insurances, to remove trees from an Urban setting. But even if they did, the cost associated with hauling equipment to a location and removing the bulk of an entire tree including its top is usually far greater than the value of the tree.

Our company has made exceptions to the standard rule of thumb regarding urban timber, but we always require a number of harvestable trees to be present that exceeds what most yards contain. If you own a smaller, wooded housing lot and would like to see about selling some of your trees, we will certainly consider your unique situation—give Timber Works a call for a one-on-one chat about your urban trees.

While exceptions are made to this rule, most urban trees have little or no value as lumber.

Comments 9

  1. I live on a small farm in Lockbourne, Ohio 43137. We have an extremely tall Poplar. There are oak and pine. I would like to send you some pictures and see if you would be interested. Thanks, Ravanna Moe

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    The other reason logging companies shy away from yard trees is that there usually just isn’t enough footage on such a job to cover our costs. Feel free to send pics. We’d be happy to have a look.

  3. Have blue spruce approximately 48 in diameter an 65 ft high is beautiful and health but need to remove. My contact number is 780-914-0941

  4. I have 13 cypress trees in my yard that are real straight and tall grown trees lumber by the footboard is a good deal of lumber

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    Unfortunately thats a little small for us because we need more than a single tree evaluate your timber.

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  7. I have 14 – 20 black walnut trees in the 30′-50′ range. They are yard trees but in a wooded setting along the Big Darby Creek. They have very few branches until you’re way up in the tree. I maybe interested in selling them if I can get a respectable value for them. I can be reached at 937-243-4087.
    Thank you, Jim Clayton

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