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Uses for a felled pine tree in the suburbs...

 
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Hi:

I apologize if I'm posting this in the wrong forum. This is my first time posting.

I'm planning to establish a permaculture garden around the suburban house where I grew up in Southern California.

My current question is about ways to use a pine tree that has to be removed.

(It was a volunteer 30 or 40 years ago, right next to the driveway. Now, the roots have cracked and raised the driveway, making it nearly impassable for my dad's car.) We're going to have to remove the old driveway, cut down the tree, grind down the roots, and install a new driveway. (I'm looking into ways to direct rainwater flow from the driveway into swales in our front lawn. I thought about permeable pavement but the clay soil is so dense, I doubt it would be worthwhile.)

Some ideas I've considered...

We have a sloping area in the backyard and I was wondering if pine logs would be useable at all for a retaining wall or for some sort of hillside, water-retention network.

I don't know how useful the wood chips would be from a pine tree, for mulch, etc. Is it too acidic?

We're not allowed to burn in the open here. I have a small, metal biochar pit, about 2 feet across. It would take me a very long time to chop pine logs and make biochar, but I could use some of the trunk pieces that way.

I've read about milling lumber with an industrial chainsaw attached to a platform on a trailer. I would need to find people who operate such equipment in this area. My dad has woodworking equipment in the garage and I'd love to build benches and other outdoor furniture with pine from this tree. Or find a way to sell or share excess lumber.

The neighbor across the street uses a wood fire for heat in the winter, but I think they're used to dry, aged wood. I could offer them some.

I welcome any advice! Thanks. - Marilyn
 
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Hi Marilyn, welcome to Permies!  

Pine logs could last a decent amount of time as a retaining wall.  I'd only use it for a one log high raised bed, not a wall higher than one log.  The lifespan would depend on how wet your climate is.  I'm assuming it's dry by you so I'd guess they could last 10-20 years.

I mulch all the time with wood chips from pine and other random types of wood chip.  I'm pretty sure the wood chips aren't acidic, pine needles could be more acidic.

Unless the tree is pretty darn big, I doubt getting it milled would be worthwhile.  Hiring a "portable sawmill" would probably be the easiest way to get it cut up.  But unless it's 20" across at the trunk I wouldn't bother.

I burn pine all the time for my winter heat.  But it's well dried (2+ years stacked).  I'm guessing it would dry faster in your climate.  It does burn fast and hot so bigger chunks are safer for the wood stove.  IE, one big log is better than 10 wrist sized pieces.  If they have an open fireplace, pine may not be as good because I think it "pops" and could shoot an ember out onto the rug.

Hugelkulture could be another option to consider...
 
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