How can I reuse or recycle … tree branches?

BranchesWe’ve had an email from Sam:

I’ve just cut down a tree in my backyard. I’ll compost the leafy bits but the branches would take far too long to rot. What can I do with them? I thought about getting one of those chipper things but they’re expensive so do you have any other suggestions?

You could maybe rent a wood shredder – and see if any friends or anyone else in the neighbourhood has stuff to chop up and would be willing to share the cost – but it might cost more than you’re willing to spend.

If there are some reasonably straight and not too thick branches, you could use them as plant supports in the garden or if they’re quite flexible, make them a trellis for plants to climb up.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by Louchiere)

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21 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … tree branches?”

  1. Katz says:

    you can give them away for firewood on
    People will come with their own instruments, cut it up and take it away.
    Btw – leaves from the trees take long time to decompose – they don’t advise you to stick them in your normal compost bin. Instead- you can call your local council and ask them about recycling green waste. You can check it out on your council’s website as well.
    In my area – they come and pick up garden waste free of charge, by appointment.

  2. Bobbie says:

    You could make some candle holders by drilling votive sized holes along the branch. Another good thing and more practical is to purchase or find some mushroom spawn and inoculate some logs. here is a link:

  3. john b says:

    I built rustic fences on my allotment with tree branches I cut down.

  4. Karlie says:

    You can pile them up and let the wild life live inside the newly formed brush pile.

  5. Mary says:

    I have seen some great cat trees made from sturdy branches. If the branch has other branches on it, you can put platforms for the kitties to sit on. Wrap some jute or carpet around the bottom to scratch on and put a sturdy base on the whole thing.

  6. suz says:

    You could spray paint them with silver paint and string fairy lights on them to to use as light/decoration.

  7. Andy says:

    Try constructing a hedge hog house, a couple of the logs screwed to gether to make sides and a few straddled across the top for a roof with dried leaves inside for bedding, left under a hedge and forgoten about, and the hogs will soon move in, dosn’t have to be too large

  8. John says:

    Talk to your local art gallery, they might know of a wood sculptor in the area who might want to carve something from your tree branches.

  9. Kaz says:

    Our local council demands £15 up front and a 3 week wait before picking up “extras”; yours might be rather saner.

    Ask around – you may have a friend of a friend who’s into woodwork; a local school might find use for it; does anyone you know have a wood burning stove?; is it too early to contact local pubs, community centres, etc., about donating wood for a bonfire?; do any of your local pubs have real wood fires?

  10. John says:

    You could give a shot at making furniture. I plan to make a chair out of some white birch branches. Just search for “rustic furniture” and you can find some ideas.

  11. Elouise says:

    My local zoo requests garden trimmings, including quite robust bits, for their animals to eat. Think about how much giraffes and elephants need to munch through in a day! Not sure if they can really eat branches, as such, but perhaps it’s worth enquiring at your local zoo.

  12. NJTomboy says:

    Bejeweled branches:

    Old costume jewelry is glued onto a tree branch to make some spring bling artwork for the credenza.

  13. CAROLYN says:


  14. Fellina says:

    We had a massive snow storm here in Oregon a few weeks ago, that took down one of the trees in my backyard. I cut the trunk into 12 inch stumps, and used them as the ‘corner stones’ for my raised veggie garden.

  15. Rob says:

    You can make a ‘brush harbor’ and every year throw more branches up there to provide more shade.

  16. Rob says:

    I like the furniture idea and the raised garden bed idea! :D
    Trees are fun! No need to get discouraged–make “lemonaide”.

  17. Rob says:

    I saw at an native american museum where they used thin tree logs laying side by side to make a sort of bed–elevated, and then they threw soft straw and such up top for the mattress.

  18. Rob says:

    How about using the tree stumps side by side for a wall, instead of a brook wall. Could be cute if done right.

  19. Matt says:

    Hi, i recently started composting and i have a bunch of trees that were growing along my shed. They were each about 1-2 inches in diameter. I put them into my compost pile, and i was just wondering if i can do that or should i pull them out and put them on craigslist.


    • louisa says:

      They will probably take a good while to compost, Matt — they will break down eventually but will take a good few years, and they’ll be in the way when you try to get to the rest of your compost. If it was me with those trees, I’d pull them out of the compost and do something else with them.

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