Thank you for contacting Illinois Extension Forestry. Please note that most yard trees have limited “commercial” value as useable lumber due to the simple little fact that yard trees were never intended to be nurtured, sold, and milled into lumber like forest-grown trees. However, I believe it is fair to say that a significant proportion of yard trees and urban street trees are grossly underutilized as a traditional source of useable raw material for the manufacturing of a wide variety of wood products.
Here is what every homeowner needs to understand about his or her yard trees – and yes, this even applies to your black walnut yard trees:
First of all, virtually no one is going to pay a homeowner to physically remove a yard tree! The physical act of removing a yard tree is a “service” provided by a certified arborist. This dangerous and expensive service requires payment, i.e., you pay a certified arborist to remove your yard tree, not the other way around. Don’t confuse yard tree removal with traditional timber harvesting – they are not the same!
Secondly, certified arborists are in the business of tree removal and tree care – they are not loggers, nor are they in the business of buying yard trees from homeowners. Similarly, loggers are in the timber business and they buy standing timber from woodland owners –- they are not certified arborists, nor are they in the business of buying or removing yard trees from someone’s front yard.
Thirdly, it may be possible to market or sell the merchantable sawlog portion of your yard tree after the certified arborist has taken it down! The sawlog portion of the main stem may contain useable lumber for making conference tables, executive desks, high-end furniture, flooring, or gunstocks. The task of marketing this recently taken-down tree will require some significant effort on you part, as you will need to find and locate a willing buyer or your log or logs.
Finding and Locating a Willing “Log” Buyer:
Homeowner Options The most logical and expedient way to address yard tree removal projects and potential yard tree value questions and concerns are listed below:
1) Measure and record the diameter of your black walnut yard tree, in inches, at a point 4.5’ above ground line. Diameter (in.) = Circumference (in.) ÷ 3.14 a. Alternatively, measure and record the diameter of your black walnut log(s) my measuring the diameter of the small end of each log (take two measurements and average the results) – this is what we refer to as DIB, or diameter inside bark.
2) Take multiple high-resolution digital photos of the main stem of your yard tree. The purpose of these photos is twofold: (1) Size, Quality, and Form, and (2) Estimate useable or merchantable log length. 3) Contact a portable/custom sawmill operator or custom wood worker to determine if they have any interest in your standing or recently felled black walnut yard tree. Be prepared to supply them with the diameter measurement of your tree and multiple high-resolution digital photos of the main stem:
a. Custom/Portable Sawmill Operators: www.illinoisurbanwood.org/sawyers.html
b. Custom Woodworkers: www.illinoisurbanwood.org/woodworkers.html
4) Contact a local certified arborist. Some arborists may be willing to negotiate the potential log value of your black walnut yard tree as part of the tree removal service/fee. Some certified arborists even have their own portable sawmills. Each tree removal project is different; thus, the potential and realization of selling your black walnut yard tree as a traditional sawlog for lumber may or may not be attainable. a. Find a Certified Arborist: http://illinoisarborist.org/services-we-provide/find-an-arborist/
b. Check your local yellow pages
5) Contact a local woodworkers group and ask them if anyone of them would be interested in your tree(s): a. Check local yellow pages b. Check internet
6) Place an advertisement in your local newspaper.
7) Place an advertisement using an internet wood products forum such as www.woodweb.com or www.woodfinder.com
So, is your black walnut, oak, ash, or maple yard tree worth anything from a traditional sawlog perspective? As a potential sawlog, possibly…as a standing yard tree, not very likely!