What is Urban Lumber?
We are sometimes asked why we keep our Urban Lumber inventory separate from lumber we get from traditional sources. It all begins with the reason urban trees are harvested in the first place.
Everyone enjoys a shaded, tree lined street in the city, and it would be nice if those trees never had to be removed. The reality is that there is a constant turnover of trees in the urban forest - caused by age, disease, damage or development. We often think our work with Urban Wood is a lot like traditional recycling of plastic or glass or cardboard or aluminum. Recycling works to prevent the material from going into a landfill, and to repurpose it into a practical use.
The goal for our Urban Lumber division is to make the highest and best use of the trees that need to be removed for reasons other than producing lumber. Traditional forestry is focused on maximum efficiency and yield, but in Urban forestry we don't have that luxury. We have to make use of every part of the tree except the stumps, which are ground on site, and brush which is chipped on site. Typical uses include mulch, firewood, pulp logs for paper making, pallet wood & saw logs.
Because of the different ways that trees grow in the city, there are also some significant differences in the lumber that is produced:
1. Urban trees generally branch out much closer to the ground than trees in a traditional forest. This is because there aren't as many trees close to each other growing tall and competing for sunlight. This means that the logs we get are not as long, and usually have more branches on them. In the lumber produced, it means that boards will typically have more knots and character marks in them from the urban forest.
2. The selection of species of wood is different & the urban forest is dependent on what is planted, rather than what regenerates naturally in the traditional forest. In addition, urban trees are not harvested for their lumber value, so it is often difficult to yield a large volume of a particular species unless there is a disease that attacks a single species. The Emerald Ash Borer is a current example of that, so yielding a quantity of ash is not as difficult as other woods right now.
We do keep an inventory of Urban Lumber products in our store, and sometimes have the ability to do bigger projects with enough lead time. Most of our inventory is in Ash, Elm & Hard Maple. The biggest quantity is in 4/4 thickness, but we do get some 8/4 also.