The dancing flames and evergreen smell from a wood-burning fireplace can add ambience to any room. If you are using a fireplace or wood stove to augment a house heating system or as the only heat source, you may need a substantial amount of wood. To forgo the expense of buying precut wood for use in your fireplace, you can grow your own trees for firewood. Plant a small area to provide wood for an occasional fire or plant an acre or more of trees to heat your house.
Determine how you want to plant the trees. Trees grown from seed can be the most cost-effective approach. Seedlings or rooted cuttings are far less expensive than nursery-grown mature landscape trees. The best woods for generating heat are hardwoods like madrone, black or live oak, eucalyptus and walnut. Fir is the best wood for generating a pleasant aroma. Trees like cottonwood, black walnut, hybrid poplar and white pine are fast growers; hickory and sugar maple are slow growers.
Choose a well-drained, sunny location, preferably at least 1 acre, if you want to grow enough wood to heat a home. Apply herbicide and after the weeds die, plow the area. Use a rototiller for a smaller lot.
Plant the seeds, seedlings or rooted cuttings in the spring, each according to the nursery instructions. Seedlings, for example, can be planted by forcing a spade into the ground. Push the spade handle to create an opening in the soil and then drop the seedling into the hole. Use your feet to compact the soil around the seedling.
Water immediately after planting and into fall every 10 to 14 days in which there is no rainfall.
Reapply herbicide the year following planting. After two years, weed control can be stopped since the trees will no longer be competing against the weeds for sunlight.
Cut down trees for firewood when at a suitable diameter of at least 6 inches. Choose trees at random to cut to create more open space around trees that remain. The remaining trees will grow faster with the expanded canopy space.
Replant to keep the wood supply continuously growing.