Storing Firewood Properly to Protect Your Trees

Reading time: 5 minutes

There’s nothing better on a chilly evening than to warm up by a lovely, cozy fire. Of course, for a fire, you need firewood. It’s convenient for most people to store their firewood outside, but when storing and using it, you’ll want to understand the risks, as firewood can damage your live trees.

We’re covering everything you need to know to keep your trees safe if you store your firewood outside. Now you’ll be prepared to face any risks with storage tips and more.

Firewood: The Risks

Firewood serves as a potential carrier for insects, fungi and diseases. By storing infested firewood near live trees, you risk exposing them to destructive pests like beetles, termites, or carpenter ants. These organisms can quickly invade healthy trees, causing irreversible damage or tree death.

For this reason, any firewood you store outside your home should be kept away from live trees. Infectious insects and fungi can’t move that far, but they will likely migrate if you place them near your living trees.

This is also why you shouldn’t move firewood from one location to another. Avoid bringing firewood more than 16 kilometres from one site to another because it could lead to pests on the wood infecting the trees and other plant life. If those species are invasive, it could be especially dangerous and cause widespread destruction of forests. It may also cost significant money to rectify.

No matter the wooded area, there will be pests and bacteria, but the environment develops to fight them effectively over time. Introducing bacteria and pathogens from a different area will leave a tree unable to protect itself, and the damage could be far more severe.

In some locations, rules and regulations are in place to prevent people from bringing non-local firewood to the area. These laws carry hefty fines if broken.

Even if your firewood looks healthy, with no holes or visible insects, there’s no guarantee that moving it to a new area is safe. For instance, some insect eggs are no bigger than a pinhead, so there’s no way to ensure nothing remains. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

A pile of firewood with a window in the middle and flowers

Firewood Storage

There are several advantages to storing your firewood outside. People generally have more free space outside, meaning you avoid bringing clutter inside your home, not to mention firewood can be dirty or leave an unwanted mess around the house.

Firewood also needs good airflow to avoid mould and fungal growth. This increased airflow will also better assist with the seasoning process, which means drying a piece of firewood to reduce its moisture content.

The most crucial benefit of storing firewood outside is that insects or pests living on the wood don’t end up in your home, potentially causing an infestation. This can be even more helpful during the winter because exposure to colder temperatures reduces the risk of any problems surviving.

There are other factors to consider when deciding how to store your firewood. Trees require a certain amount of sunlight, airflow, and moisture levels to thrive. If firewood is stored too close to live trees, these necessary elements can be limited, making trees more susceptible to disease and decay.

Keeping firewood too close to live trees will also increase the risk of it falling onto or against a live tree, which could cause harm to the bark and leave it open to infection and structural damage.

Tips for Storing Firewood Safely

Storage Areas

Choose a storage area at least 30 feet away from live trees to minimize the risk of pests and diseases spreading from the firewood and any structural damage caused by firewood falling onto the trunk or branches.

Consider using a raised platform. Elevate the firewood stack using pallets or a rack, as this will help improve airflow around the wood and prevent direct contact with the ground, reducing the buildup of moisture and bacteria growth.

Restrict Moisture

Using a waterproof cover will also reduce the chances of mould and bacteria growth while protecting firewood from rain and snow. If you choose to do this, make sure the cover doesn’t touch the firewood, as this would increase the chances of moisture buildup.

Proper Stacking

Be sure to stack it properly to avoid it falling and causing harm to your trees – or a person. Create a stable stack by placing firewood logs in a crisscross pattern, as this will also help improve air circulation and create stability.

If you’re unsure how best to store firewood in your home or yard, particularly if you have limited storage space, get in touch with our talented ISA-certified arborists for a free consultation and to discuss your options.

Look Out For Fallen Branches and Debris

Like firewood, when not stored correctly, debris and fallen branches can block sunlight and reduce a tree’s ability to photosynthesize and produce energy.

Heavy branches and debris falling from trees can cause structural damage to nearby trees, which could lead to broken limbs or the weakening of the entire tree.

Fallen branches are also a hot spot for pathogens, fungi and bacteria. Once inside the tree, it can cause infections and decay, threatening its health and structural stability.

The best thing to do with fallen branches and debris is to keep it in one place to let it rot, away from live trees. Like firewood, you should avoid moving it to reduce the risk of spreading insects and diseases.

By storing firewood at a safe distance from live trees, removing any fallen branches or debris, and keeping trees pruned in a controlled way, the chances of disease, tree pest infestation, and physical damage will be significantly reduced.

Let Green Drop Help

Responsible firewood storage and usage practices will protect the trees in your yards, gardens, and other locations (and forests).

Our specialist arborists are well-trained and experienced in creating the ideal environment for your trees to thrive while allowing you to store all the firewood you’ll need safely and appropriately.

If you have any questions about how to protect your trees, use and store firewood safely, or even whether your firewood setup is safe, reach out to the team at Green Drop today for a free consultation. We’ll have your trees looking their best in no time.

Schedule Your Free Tree Care Assessment