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Native Plant Guide

Information and Services for King County, Washington

Alternative uses of wood from storm damage

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The recent windstorm has left many of us with major cleanup ahead of us. It is saddening to see our favorite trees toppled over and the clean up work can seem overwhelming. The good news is that unless a downed tree is posing an immediate threat to safety, you have time to consider the best option for your next steps.

Yard waste recycling - In King County, if you would like to dispose of stumps, tree limbs and brush, the material can be taken to recycling processors. Visit the Solid Waste Division Web site,, for details. In many cases these recycling options are significantly less expensive than disposal.

Other options
Before you spend time and money moving the material, you might consider leaving some or all the fallen trees where they fell.

Make mulch - Many of us spend lots of money on bark, compost or woodchips for our landscapes. Stumps, logs and branches can be ground or chipped and left onsite as mulch. The resulting material can be spread in a 2-4 inch layer around woody trees and shrubs. You can hire a professional to do this or rent a machine from an equipment rental store. To learn more about mulching, visit You can even use some woody mulches and downed logs to grow edible mushrooms.

Create brush piles- Many different birds including hummingbirds, towhees, thrushes, sparrows and chickadees use brush piles for food and shelter. Simply crisscross brush in a manner that creates different sized openings throughout the pile. Try a pile at least 3 -5 feet in diameter with larger material on the bottom. Locate away a minimum of 30 feet away from your home where it will not be a fire hazard.

Leave root wads - In forested and natural settings exposed root wads provide excellent habitat for a variety of small animals.

Continued on What to do with windstorm debris Part 2