Several years ago we had to take down our large, sprawling Maple tree (the roots were starting to affect the foundation of our house). Then, this past winter, a limb from a tree in the yard behind our home came down under the weight of heavy snow and ice. So we have our fair share of wood, branches and twigs?far more than we use in our fireplace. What to do with all that wood?
There are tons of DIY projects out there for using branches and tree trunks, and while some take considerable time and skill, others are simple projects that can be done in a day. I've pulled together two of my own DIY projects with one from a designer and another from a crafter/blogger, and each one will add some stunning appeal to your indoor or outdoor spaces.
Recently on Planet Green, Blythe Copeland showed us how to make a twig lamp, but if you're looking for something a little more suited to a bedside table or a cozy family room, Canadian designer Sarah Richardson came up with a brilliant DIY project when she was building a bunkhouse at her cottage. A white birch had to be taken down (it was in poor health), so Sarah used a thick branch as a base for a lamp, wired it and affixed a simple cream shade for a pair of oh-so-chic bedside table lamps. Check out this video for full instructions (click on the DIY Projects tab).
Kelly Wilkinson of (Make Grow Gather wrote about her cousin's use of trimmed branches as a natural support in the garden for climbing peas?a project that I copied for my homegrown organic peas with great success. Just trim some branches, push them down into the soil (it's easiest just after watering or heavy rain), and your peas will be eager to wind their way up the branches, creating a delicate natural sculpture in your garden.
Did your tree lose a thicker branch, one about 3 inches in diameter? Slice disks about one-quarter inch to one-half inch thick to create a set of rustic coasters. If you want the bark to remain intact, you may need to pre-dry the branch in a kiln, but you can remove the bark and let it dry in a warm window for a few months before using it. To prevent splitting and other damage, regularly apply a thin coat of orange or lemon oil, or, if you want a country-chic coaster, apply a coat of white wash. To make white wash, mix equal parts white low- or no-VOC paint and water.
You know the coaster project? If you have a tree trunk to work with, cut 2-inch thick discs and use them outside as a natural stepping "stone" pathway in your garden or yard. Keep in mind wood rots, but there are some decay-resistant species that are better for outdoor use, including Cedar, Chestnut, Black Cherry, Arizona Cyprus, Juniper, Mesquite, Oak, Black Walnut and Pacific Yew. If you want to treat the wood, consider applying a low-VOC stain or try a beeswax glaze to protect the wood from the elements. Difficulty: Easy Cara Smusiak writes on behalf of Naturally Savvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle.