Dropping a tree is going to leave your yard cluttered up with logs and/or brush. There are a few ways to get rid of the wood, and depending on what kind of trees they are, you might be even be able to get money for it.
How to make money off trees
Sell it as firewood
If you buck and split the wood yourself, you can sell it by the cord (4’ by 4’ by 8’, tightly stacked) or half cord.
Most softwoods make decent firewood. Many hardwoods do as well, though they are harder to split and tend to burn slower. But beggars can’t be choosers and those who burn wood often take what they can get.
Valuable firewood trees that are common to the area include pine, fir and spruce. Cedars make excellent kindling. Their straight grain makes them easy to split into small pieces, and cedar burns hot and fast. (Making and selling bundles of cedar kindling is a good part time hustle to keep kids busy and make them some cash at home.)
Sell it to be made into dimensional lumber
Structural lumber, such as 2x4’s, are made from common softwoods like fir and spruce.
Sell it to be made into veneer wood
Prime hardwood logs are hard to find and thus will fetch a pretty penny. Hardwood is valued for its aesthetics, and is used in applications like furniture building, flooring, and veneer (paneling).
A prime hardwood log of any sort will always be worth something if you can find the right buyer. Two species that are commonly harvested for commercial use in the Pacific Northwest are Red alder and Bigleaf maple. One legendary tree known to sometimes fetch hundreds to thousands of dollars per log is the Black walnut. This tree can be found in Western Washington but is not common. If you plant a stand of them today, your children or grandchildren could potentially sell them for tens of thousands of dollars in a few decades.
You can reference our Western Washington tree ID guide (coming soon) to help identify your tree.
What determines the value of wood?
As with any commodity, the value of wood is subjective. The only real standard is what somebody is willing to pay, for your specific log, in this specific moment. For firewood, the best way to determine what you can sell for is to compare firewood listings on local classifieds.
When it comes to veneer wood and structural lumber, wood is most valuable if it is long, thick, straight, and clear (free of knots). Think about it this way: the shortest length a 2x4 is sold in is 8’. Therefore a piece of wood that cannot provide at least an 8’ length is useless in that regard.
You might have a 12’ log, but if it it has a significant bend in the middle, you can only get straight boards in 6’ lengths. Or, if you have a large knot at 6’, that particular part of the tree cannot yield an 8’ board.
The same standards apply to a greater degree for hardwoods. The ultimate log will be entirely usable as knot free boards. These are difficult, if not impossible, to find, but any log with a substantial amount of prime wood in usable lengths is worth money.
Who will buy my logs?
The obvious place to sell your wood to is a local mill. Your best bet is to contact as many mills as you can and compare their offerings. When it comes to softwoods, the mill probably won’t be interested unless there’s a whole truckload. As an alternative, there’s always the possibility that you can find a private buyer with his own milling equipment.
Since hardwoods are more scarce, you don’t necessarily need a whole truckload to sell for commercial use. If a local mill dabbles in the type of wood you have, you might get a decent payout. Alternatively, you can try to sell privately to a local woodworker.
The right buyer can be hard to find. Part of the job for a tree service company is to help homeowners get rid of their fallen trees. We have a few contacts in the area and can help you connect with a potential buyer.
To identify your tree, see our Western Washington Tree ID guide (coming soon).