View Full Version : Way OT: Any way to keep a dead standing pine tree from rotting?

01-01-2013, 02:57 AM
A large pine tree in my yard was struck by lightning several months ago. The strike went down about twenty feet, and then followed a nearby oak tree to the ground. The oak tree is completely dead now, and I plan to remove it. Several of the upper limbs of the pine tree have turned brown, but the rest looks like it's going to survive, at least for a while.

The pine tree is about 24 inches in diameter at the base. It's in a perfect spot to use as a base for a free-standing carport or pavilion. I'm thinking about having the top removed while the tree guys are here, but leaving about twenty feet of the trunk standing to support the structure.

Is there any way to keep the trunk from rotting after the upper part of the tree is removed?

01-01-2013, 03:56 AM
Nope.... it will rot from the base and eventually fall over when the roots are gone. You could drill it full of holes and pour in copper napthalate but that's an enviromental disaster.

Exactly what species of "pine" is it?

01-01-2013, 03:58 AM
The trunk by itself could be dried and preserved over time. But the stump will be dead too and always in contact with moisture and insects. The stump is the foundation of the tree, so even if you managed to have a well preserved trunk, it would eventually have a rotting foundation.

On the other hand, at times I've seen old pine stumps hold up real well over time. Pine tar/sap is a natural insecticide. With certains types of pines, the stump and root structure can become heavily impregnated with solidified sap/amber. If you cut the stump open you'll see the roots and stump wood is very hard and resinous. It'll dull your chainsaw blade very quickly. The wood burns with intense heat. It's called "fatwood" and is used as a fire starter. Checkitout:


Dr Stan
01-01-2013, 10:11 AM
In a word, no. It will also serve as an ideal environment for lots of destructive insects most notably termites. :eek:

01-01-2013, 10:19 AM
Boric acid mixed in propylene glycol will protect wood ftom the decay organisms, but I doubt you'd be able to permanently protect a 20 foot stump still connected to the ground.


01-01-2013, 10:48 AM
If it is 25 inches in dia, the heartwood could already be starting to go punky.
Take it out, and saw up into a few nice boards?

01-01-2013, 11:05 AM
Cover it with twelve inches of concrete and rebar.

Dr Stan
01-01-2013, 11:12 AM
Cover it with twelve inches of concrete and rebar.

The redesigned & rebuilt Senator Mitch McConnell riverside park in Owensboro KY has some concrete trees. Maybe you could just get some of them as they are only $1,000,000.00 a piece. :rolleyes:

If you really, really need to see pics go here: http://www.edsaplan.com/es/ajax_projects_loader/3543?ajax=1

01-01-2013, 11:29 AM
Has always been interesting to me that Noo Yawks' Emire State Building was constructed using wooden piling. Also, workers found the first Cape Hatteras lighthouse was built standing on a mat of horizontal timbers.


Weston Bye
01-01-2013, 11:39 AM
Dig up the tree, leaving the roots intact, soak the end of the trunk in whatever preservative is the fashion these days and bury it upside down.


I seem to remember some sort of elf or fairy or troll lore about lodges built around upside-down trees.

01-01-2013, 12:10 PM
The heartwood of pine is very resistant to decay. In fact the heartwood will not take treatment when pressure treated. The sapwood is what rots fast. In the old days creosote, fuel oil or motor oil, but not now.

01-01-2013, 12:28 PM
Look up a local wood carving club for this information, carvers have carved many objects out of dead trees in a near by park after a storm went through. Some of the carvings are of fish, mountain men, and vegetables. I noticed that while they were in the process of carving, they had some one gallon cans attached to the trunk with tubes pushed into holes drilled around the root area of the trees. They stayed there long after the carving was finished.
I was told that they used a mixture of acetone and epoxy without hardener that would penetrate deep into the roots. After a amount of time, they would mix up a batch with some hardener to start the reaction, and I was told that it would take up to a year to completely harden the trunk and roots. This is what I was told they used but it may have been some other mixture as the person that told me this was not a expert and was passing on what he was told. Some of the carvings have been standing over 30 years and look just fine.


01-01-2013, 12:50 PM
I have had about 20 or so huge 70 year old pines die of blight and those that I didn't cut down within about a year rotted quickly. I cut them down myself to save the $400 to $500 (times 20!) cost of having them cut by a tree service as I can find the time.

You certainly don't want to use the rotting tree as a pillar to hold up your garage. What you save is small compared to the headache you'll have when things start to fall over later.

01-01-2013, 01:06 PM
"Pine" means different things in difference parts of the county. Here it's often Ponderosa (mainly eastern portion of the state) but trees are generally called "Fir" or Pine" no matter what they are!

in California - many... but Monteray pine (pinus radiata) comes to mind. The later is a softwood that decays rapidly. In Montana - Lodgepole Pine. In some states - Southern Yellow Pine. Many more examples.

Some pine are more naturally rot resistant or can take up preservative, but unless you know exactly what type it's hard to speculate. Soil and weather conditions have a lot to do with how well they stand dead, so looking around the local area for examples is a good guide. In Montana the Lodgepole Pine gets killed by the Pine Bark Beetle, and entire forests stay standing dead for decades (if they don't burn down) not because of any special properties of the wood (it rots easily) but because it's so dry.

01-01-2013, 01:08 PM

Is there any way to keep the trunk from rotting after the upper part of the tree is removed?

Yes, cut the trunk off at the base, dig up the stump, replace it with a SonoTube full of concrete and put the trunk on top of the concrete footer.


Paul Alciatore
01-01-2013, 02:43 PM
Yes, cut the trunk off at the base, dig up the stump, replace it with a SonoTube full of concrete and put the trunk on top of the concrete footer.


That's what I was going to suggest.

01-01-2013, 03:32 PM
Have a "Tree Service" cut the tree to gound level and then "grind" the base and roots out. Dig the remainder out with a back hoe or a bull-dozer or similar with "ripping" tines.

Dig out all disturbed earth and bits of tree, fill with good soil in 4>6" layers and compact it with a "vibrating" base (aka "Waker") or roller or a tracked vehicle.

Get a Geo-Technical soil test and report done to see what is recommended for the new slab etc.



01-02-2013, 10:56 AM
You didn't say what part of the country you're in but in the south leaving a dead pine standing or even cut and laying around is a REALLY bad idea. I'm not sure how but dead pines here spread pine borers and they'll kill every nearby pine within a few years. Best advice is to cut it down and burn it or haul it away. Then watch for any sign of pine borers in nearby pines and treat them before borers can get inside of them (spray with Lindane). Once the borers get into a tree it's next to impossible to kill them and they'll eventually kill the tree.

jim davies
01-04-2013, 04:44 PM
What lakeside53 says is good info, based on my experience dealing with lots of bug-kill lodgepole pine here in the frozen north. I have either dropped them leaving a stump about a meter high, for leverage when winching out the rootball, or, alternatively winching the entire tree over. Trees here range 4" to 18" DBH.

My experience is that around half the dead pine have rotted internally right at ground level and will break there as they are pulled. This rot is not obvious from the outside. So, here at least, I would not rate a dead pine tree as a good candidate for building onto, although my clothes line is connected to one.