When we decided our large cyprus macrocarpa trees 'had to go' due to practicalities, we tried outsourcing the job to a contractor, however when his machinery literally starting sliding off our hill and people's lives were threatened we called it off.
So, we slowly but surely tackled it ourselves, but the question we asked at the start of the whole process was, how can we utilise and respect the embodied energy of this massive tree?
Our answer was to convert that energy it put into growing all those years into creating functional and fun structures which continue to live on for time to come. Here's how:
Conveniently, we have no termites in Tasmania (yay) and macrocarpa timber is well known for its durability for outside uses, so it's highly sought-after for landscaping purposes.
Generally it'll last around 15 years before showing signs of needing replacing, and sometimes more. It sure is doing a swell job supporting our floppy fence line.
We created an organic looking, strong and down right beautiful (in my humble opinion) retaining wall for part of the orchard.
It hugs the bottom of a slope and is home to our apricot and almond trees, which allowed for a diverse understory to sprawl.
To make them so sturdy, Anton drilled a big hole through the small logs and used some old water pipe (hard steel stuff) as 'pegs' which he put directly though the wall and staked into the ground. We then lined it with geofabric and filled it in with juicy top soil.
We didn't have a chipper, so Anton used his chainsaw to 'mulch' the greenery and mud-proof our paths which worked surprisingly well.
A key thing to be mindful of when using macrocarpa on pathways is that it's anti-fungal, but in an orchard this isn't ideal as we REALLY wanted fungi to thrive in this environment.
To accelerate the breaking down we be added a bit of blood and bone among the path.
We espaliered part of our orchard to fit more trees on our urban block and three long (five metres) logs we salvaged from the tree provided the backbone for this framework to support our very young trees and kiwi fruits.
We added seasonal netting later to protect the fruit from being picked off by the many birds which swamp the gardens and orchards around our neighbourhood come harvest time.
We put cute silver caps on the top of each post to ensure the netting can be smoothly put on and off, without getting caught on the rough timber.
Stairs - we love 'em and seriously needed them to navigate our slope safely. Once again the macrocarpa came to the rescue to provide all the materials to create spunky and solid stairs.
We back-filled them with sawdust to create mud-free, level steps.
We also used a lot of the green mulched needles as deep litter in our chook run which they loved scratching through, and chopped up a large firewood pile for coming years.
And finally (or maybe not) we left the main trunk (with some short branches) in the ground in order to build an adventure tree house which quickly became Anton's most desired place for evening beers.
We left one of the tall spikes you can see Anton sitting on as a flag pole - because, you know, that's super important.
So, here's to many more years of our cypress macrocarpa living on in its new and many forms.