large brush pile

ladychipsMay 8, 2012

This may be a bit off-topic, but I would appreciate any thoughts/advice. A couple of years ago, we cleared a wooded area to build a house. The wood pile that resulted is quite large. I can't burn it because of its location. I prefer to let it rot down on its own. Any thoughts on speeding up this process? I thought I would ask here because it's almost like a compost pile for giants...

BTW, I am a new reader of this forum, and I love it. It's not often I find a place that is educational and funny at the same time.

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darth_weeder(z7 NY)

the best way would be to reduce the size of the material.
I would use a chainsaw to cut the larger pieces and a chipper/shredder on the smaller stuff.
Beyond that I can't think of anything that would help speed things along.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:01PM
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As mentioned elsewhere, urine. If you aren't willing to go that far, coffee grounds.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Combine the two posts above, the two main things that will speed decomposition is particle size and Nitrogen. Also keeping it moist will be the third leg of your decomposition stool.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 4:44PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

In very dry weather, sprinkle a little diesel fuel or lighter fluid around the pile. Step back, admire your work, and toss in a match. If you are not a vegetarian, bring hot dogs and marshmallows.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:16AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

toxcrusadr, You ruined it by the "just kidding"!

Just kidding.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:40AM
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lonmower(zone8 Western Oregon)

My friend Jimmy decided that this brush pile needed to be burned and that it was far enough way from anything flammable.

Well...the wind shifted just a bit...and four hours later with four volunteer fire departments standing by... the beautiful 100 year old barn was ashes. Jimmy said the heat was so intense that they might have been able to roast (tofu) dogs 100 yards away.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:41PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Burning brush piles is not to be trifled with. My boss had a crew in to clear brush and red cedars on a couple of acres and they left big piles that he left over winter. In early spring there was 1/4" of snow on the ground, wind in the right direction, and he decided to light one. Wind shifted and the cedar gave off so much flammable volatiles that a horizontal pipe of flame and smoke was extending many feet from the pile and almost lit his neighbor's standing cedar grove on fire. Up in the canopy it would have been pretty hard to put out. He about had a heart attack. Turned out OK though.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:50PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)


we have similar situation pile of pushed over trees (mostly hard wood trees with a couple of pine trees mixed in), we could burn but have chosen to cut it up with chainsaw and use it in the bottom of new garden beds of the raised sort the height of the beds is going to be the same as the width of corrugated roofing, we have a pile of over burden top soil to use as well. our method comes under the hugelkultur term.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 3:04PM
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All my neighbors (who are also kin folks) want to burn it. Heck, I want to burn it too...but it is way too close to my new house and right under some beautiful trees. Len - I've done some reading about the hugelkultur thing - sounds really interesting. I'll have to talk my husband into it (not so easy - can't even get him to pee on my compost pile...) Thanks for all the feedback. I'd love to hear more ideas if anyone wants to share.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Are we talking branches or large limbs? One could rent a chipper for an afternoon if it is smaller branches. Larger stuff could be hacked up and sold as firewood. People at the campground here are buying 6-8 chunks of split fire wood for $6.99.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Have you considered hugelkultur

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 12:19AM
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While many people think of a brush pile as an eyesore those do have a place in our environment. They can provide shelter for wildlife, they can, over time, provide nutrients for soil, they can help stabilize soil that might be prone to erosion.
To hide that brush pile you could expend large amounts of time and energy and chip it and spread the result around as mulch without loosing all of the benefits of a brush pile. Burning material like that should never be an option because of the pollution burning produces. If you have something like a backhoe the Hugelkultur idea might work.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 6:48AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Burning wood is a problem with breathing in particles of toxic chemicals. I have never been a fan of bonfires. It seems like a fun idea as a child to go to camp and burn wood that you find, but now it seems like a horrible dangerous idea. Not just for burning your house town but cancer. Some many people in my age group 40's are getting cancer. People are know are dying from cancer.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 12:47PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

If you want to use it, then renting a chipper, hugelkultur or firewood sound like great ideas.

If you just want it gone, you could place an add on Craiglist or Freecycle with the important words of "YOU HAUL!"

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 2:38PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

Burning has been around for millions of years, ever since there was dry land with vegetation. In fact, we've prevented it across large areas by putting out forest and prairie fires. I'm not saying we should burn everything, obviously, or that it doesn't 'pollute', but the occasional brush pile or campfire is not that big a deal unless you are in a very polluted urban area. Just my 2c, YMMV.

PS don't stand in the smoke.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 5:21PM
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