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My house has a large garden. There are some small trees on the left and right sides. These are not much taller than a human. They have a whole lot of thin long branches that are curved in random directions. Usually, these small trees have no leaves in them due to the climate. They are green for only a few months every year. So basically they are a most offending eye sore.

I took a saw and chopped off one of the small trees. Now I have a whole lot of small stems that are 1m or smaller. I have tried to cut them into smaller stems and fit them into a metal bucket. I tried to set them on fire but failed. I put in a lot of card board and set that to fire, it burnt and turned into ashes but the tree stems did not catch fire.

What is the correct way to get rid of these small tree stems? They will not fit into my car.

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    Wet/live wood does not burn well, it needs to dry down first, then you can have a nice fire. Guessing you do not want to wait that long, and if small can rent/buy a small wood shredder and make mulch.
    – crip659
    Feb 9, 2023 at 18:33
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    Thin stuff may clog a shredder (speaking from annoying experience.) A lawn mower might work better, if they are small enough. But my favorite solution (requires patience, which I suspect is in short supply, oh well) gardening.stackexchange.com/a/29482/6806
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 9, 2023 at 18:43
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    Do you have trash service at your location?
    – Huesmann
    Feb 9, 2023 at 20:33
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    Use the saw to cut into lengths of 1m, then place in car and dispose of at the local waste center.
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 9, 2023 at 20:34
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    My waste haulers will take moderately sized branches (up to ~2" in diameter) so long as they are tied in ~3' bundles or put into black trash or yard waste bags.
    – SteveSh
    Feb 9, 2023 at 20:48

7 Answers 7

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The green tree wood won't burn well until it has dried out more. Give it a month and then it should burn easily.

If you know the species of wood, for example, hardwoods or fruit trees like mulberry or apple or plum, consider using it as smoking material for your grill after it has had a few weeks to dry out.

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A slow, but common solution is to have a dedicated heap for cuttings and branches.

Fresh cuttings goes on top every season, while the bottom slowly compresses and decomposes.

Wood → Dirt

This will be a rather popular location to visit for small birds in the area due to the insects to be found, and you can get a rather varied and exciting fungus flora living there.

This is obviously not always something you want in your garden, for space reasons or aesthetic goals.

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    This. If the OP has a large garden, there's definitely some out-of-sight area to put it. Let nature take its course.
    – Tom
    Feb 10, 2023 at 14:34
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    Just don't heap them up right next to the house. Aside from being a possible fire hazard, you want to ensure that insects and mold stay outside.
    – bta
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:02
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Hand pruners should easily cut up stems 1/2" or less in diameter, maybe larger ones depending on the nature of the wood. Loppers and a pruning saw will take care of the rest. Removing all those unwanted trees would seem to be a more efficient solution. Just cutting them off at ground level might result in prolific sprouts from the stump and roots. If getting all that out is too much work, there are likely chemical herbicides, designed specifically for killing shrubs and brush, that may be effective.

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    I wonder why I did not think about the pruner earlier. This could certainly be used.
    – gyuunyuu
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:34
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You need to season the wood for a year or so (store somewhere dry and well ventilated), then it will make good kindling for your fireplace or stove.

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    It really depends on the type of wood though
    – Rsf
    Feb 10, 2023 at 12:07
  • So the wood won't dry in matter of days but needs several months before I can set it on fire?
    – gyuunyuu
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:33
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    Yes @Quantum0xE7 - drying the sap out of the wood is not like drying rainwater out of it. It takes a lot longer. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:46
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    @Quantum0xE7 rough estimate I read somewhere that you need about month per 1cm of distance to the middle of the log for wood to be dry enough (obviously assuming dry place to start with). You probably can get small twigs dry in a month, but for anything bigger it would be longer - I believe "seasoning" wood (which how that drying is called) comes from seasons needed for process to finish. I'd start with at least whole summer as a starting point. Feb 11, 2023 at 0:21
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Apart from the answer I linked in a comment for truly large quantities, another typical approach is to use loppers or pruning shears (since they are small wet branches this is much faster than sawing) to chop them to roughly 300 mm or less and just leave them on the surface of the soil, where they will decay over time without being in the way.

Or, you can set them aside to dry for a few months and then burn them, if local conditions allow (don't be the person in your area that starts a fire considerably larger than the stuff you wanted to burn.)

Or, dig a hole and bury them, if you'd rather not see them and want it over with quickly.

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    Or put them in your compost bin/pickup if available.
    – Armand
    Feb 9, 2023 at 21:24
  • So I can put these into compost bin if the council has one of these, where I live in the UK?
    – gyuunyuu
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:33
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    @Quantum0xE7 Whether you can do that (or not) will depend upon the council's rules for "what can go in the compost bin." We have no idea what your specific council (or its contracted compost-collector) allows. Feb 10, 2023 at 15:41
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Cardboard burns hot, but quite fast. I recommend making a campfire (or use a firepit/charcoal grill) with a few actual logs; get that fire going nicely and then add the small stuff on top of it.

Since the fresh cut stuff is high in moisture, it will smoke a good deal when burning and will take a little while to drive the moisture out to a point where it will burn, but it will burn.

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No green waste where you are? When I do pruning I cut this stuff to bin size using a recip saw with a brush blade or use lopping shears. A surprising amount of cut branches can fit.

If you intend to burn it, check your local regulations. There are often stipulations on this: permits required, burning limited to certain times of the year, proper clearance, and so forth. Usually, freshly cut (green) wood doesn't burn well: your neighbors will hate you for the smoky pall emanating from your burn pile. Better to set the branches aside and wait.

That said, if the branches are still green and longish, you could do something decorative with them, like weaving them into a wattle for a decorative border, or making a wreath.

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