ClickCease Unlocking the Benefits of Green Timber | Arborist Now SF - Arborist Now

Call Us: +1 415 310 7781

FREE Seasonal Planting Guide

Get Our Free Seasonal Planting Guide

Unlocking the Benefits of Green Timber: Sustainable Solutions from Arborist Now


What exactly is “green wood?” 

You may well have heard that phrase (or perhaps “green lumber”) and wondered just what it referred to. You might also be wondering whether it’s an option for your own lumber needs and whether there’s an ethically sourced and environmentally friendly option here in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Well, you’ve come to the right place on both counts! 

In this primer, we’ll explain just what green wood is, its various uses and advantages, and how our milling department here at Arborist Now goes about supplying it to a wide range of customers for a wide range of purposes.

What is Green Timber & What Are the Benefits of Using It?

Precision Milling Services

A Tree Being Milled into Green Timber by Arborist Now

It’s called green lumber because it’s freshly felled or cut wood with a high moisture content. Most commercially available lumber has gone through a kiln-drying process to remove the bulk of its moisture; not so for green lumber. 

Wood naturally shrinks as it dries. Properly kiln-dried lumber undergoes minimal shrinkage post-construction, whereas green wood will dry (aka “cure”) in place after it’s been installed. That means, inevitably, some shrinkage, particularly (as far as green lumber boards are concerned) when it comes to thickness and width. 

You certainly need to take that natural, in-place shrinkage under consideration when deciding whether green wood timber works for your particular project. For the right structure and setting, though, there are many advantages to using this kind of lumber. 

For one thing, there are very real sustainability benefits; so important, in fact—and so meaningful to our company—that we’re giving them their own section below.

But besides the environmental pluses, green lumber also delivers convenience and savings: It can be milled quickly, even right on site, without the time and expense of kiln drying. This fresher, moister wood is also nice and flexible; it can be a real joy to work with.
And then there’s the whole aesthetic side of things: Green lumber’s got a pleasant, rustic look that’s just what the doctor ordered for many projects.

Applications of Green Lumber

Rustic Wood Patio Bench with Backrest

A Custom Project with Green Timber Milled and Designed by Arborist Now

Just what sorts of projects, you might ask? There are plenty of applications perfectly suited for green lumber, taking advantage of how readily available, easily workable, minimally processed, and all-around eye-catching it is. 

Structures where some amount of post-construction shrinkage isn’t a problem—or where it’s accounted for in one way or another—are the prime examples. That said, green-lumber framing can certainly be done with the right skill and care. (After all, people have been building shelters with fresh, rough-cut logs for thousands of years.)

Classic and modern uses of green lumber include benches, fencing, stairs, decks, tables, and retaining walls—not to mention all sorts of different outbuildings, such as barns and sheds. While green logs are often used for outdoor projects, they can also make wonderful side tables and other interior furniture highlighting the round’s unique shape and beautiful growth ring patterns.

Here at Arborist Now, our ace wood milling services in San Francisco have supplied locally sourced green timber for a host of different projects. We were proud, for example, to help out with the innovative Nature Exploration Area at Heron’s Head Park, where we prepped a tree removed from Lake Merced for hands-on nature play and fashioned another locally harvested hulk of green wood into a “welcome tunnel” for kids to scramble through.

Environmental Impact

Arborist Now team with a felled tree

The Arborist Now Team with a Felled Tree Set to be Repurposed into Green Timber

One of the go-to reasons to use green lumber is sustainability. At Arborist Now, we salvage usable green lumber from trees that are dead, dying, downed, unstable, or which otherwise need to be removed; a constant issue, needless to say, in urban and suburban settings. In many cases, that usable lumber would go to waste if not for our work: The wood of many a tree slated for removal is often too knotty, twisty, hollowed, or otherwise “worthless” for the traditional lumber market. Even if such a tree does have commercially valuable wood, it’s often too scanty to interest a large mill.

Yet we're frequently able to harvest a substantial quantity of quality green lumber from these trees, snags, and logs. By doing so, we’re keeping wood from entering the waste stream while creating useful—and, hey, often downright beautiful—objects. We also like to think we’re honoring the tree in the process.

There are other environmental dimensions to this. Our green lumber derives from locally harvested wood, so it has a lower carbon footprint than a lot of the treated lumber coming in—often across long distances—from commercial mills. 

And that pressure-treated, mass-produced lumber has typically been infused with carcinogenic and toxic chemicals to make it more durable and decay resistant. All of the salvaged wood we sell at Arborist Now, by comparison, is chemical free and untreated.

Arborist Now’s Approach

A Small Deck Made of Green Timber

This Small Backyard Deck is Made of Arborist Now's High-Quality Green Timber

You might suppose that the green lumber we supply—which is, again, untreated and free of chemicals—has a shorter lifespan than that pressure-treated alternative. Actually, we’re fortunate here in the Bay Area to have a ready supply of tree species, both native and non-native, with outstanding natural resistance to decay and insect damage, and those are the species we primarily focus on at Arborist Now. These include coast redwood, eucalyptus, and black acacia, all (due to natural tannins and/or oils) exceptionally durable and rot resistant.
Given we’re an arborist outfit, all the trees we’re milling come from the Bay Area and had already been pegged for removal for one reason or another. (Bear in mind, of course, that as accredited tree-care specialists, a lot of our work involves assessing and boosting tree health through targeted trimming and other upkeep; we're not only about felling and removal!) Therefore, you can count on Arborist Now for ethically sourced and sustainable lumber. We’re maximizing the use of San Francisco trees that might otherwise be discarded as wood waste, prolonging the life cycle and carbon-sequestering services of this salvaged local product.

We carefully select the highest quality and most decay-resistant wood for our milling work, offering a fantastically customizable product for all manner of bespoke projects.

And we especially trade in larger pieces of green lumber, milling logs on the top and bottom to produce slabs, rounds, stumps, benches, and the like. It’s worth noting that such larger and thicker pieces aren’t as prone to shrinkage or movement as they dry or cure in place as compared to smaller, thinner boards.

Custom-Milled Wood From Arborist Now: Obtain Locally Sourced, High-Quality, Untreated Lumber for Your Next Project

Workers Handling Freshly Cut Lumber at a Sawmill

Arborist Now's Green Timber Makes Excellent Dimensional Lumber 

Whether it’s an attractively rough-hewn bench or chair or a one-of-a-kind tabletop, look no further than Arborist Now for locally harvested, expertly selected, and carefully milled green timber in the Bay Area. Check out our website, get in touch with our team for custom milling inquiries (as well as any and all tree care services), and follow along on Arborist Now's social media for updates and tips on sustainable practices!

Latest News

News Categories


Disclosure: We may receive affiliate compensation for some of the links below at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.