Repurposing Tree Bark Into A Landscape Carpet

“Giving Found Materials Fresh Form And Purpose”
is one of the subjects shared about on this BLOG.  It falls under the FOUNDATIONS pillar of my Stonebridge.  In today’s terms it is called up-cycling, re-purposing or re-cycling.  In Kansas we just call it making-do!  Even tree bark gets into the act.
This activity uses materials ranging from out-dated furniture to cracked dishes as a basis for a new object.  I generally use items that come to me from maintaining and restoring our historic landmark home in an effort to avoid clutter or tossing things into the landfill.  Some things I sell  (contact me at:!).

Making Dirt

One category of raw material that comes in the spring and fall are leftovers from the garden:
  • Trimmings from trees and bushes
  • Weeds extracted from flower beds
  • Spent flowers. and so forth
Most of the time, this goes into our composting process which yields us rich soil for potting plants, amending garden soil and to share with our gardening friends.  No trips to the garden center for bags of dirt at Maison Steinbuchel!

Making Heat

Another category of leftovers comes from the fact that we burn a lot of wood in the winter.  Our historic home was made with a centralized fireplace as a heating source, so we take advantage of its natural structure to keep the core of the house at a constant temperature using a better ‘n ben’s wood-burning fireplace insert.

Fortunately, we have a friend who removes trees as a living and gives us the wood for FREE.  Many folks who do this kind of tree removal also sell wood, but that requires a place to store it, advertising and a delivery process.

Audell just takes them down and discards the wood.  So with our intervention, it saves the cost of it going to the landfill.  This is good for us and good for the environment.  We don’t take every type of wood as some kinds do not produce enough BTUs to be worth the effort.  Some types produce too much creosote and create a fire hazard in the chimney flue so we are selective.

When the wood arrives, it is in large chunks requiring additional cutting and splitting.  As this process occurs large sheets of tree bark are leftover.  Smaller pieces are used as mulch, but the bigger chunks,  have been stacked up for a special project in my landscape this year.

Making Carpet For The Copse

In the back of our property is a treed area we call the copse.  It is a mixture of trees and bushes including:
  • Fruit trees.  An apple, a peach, a pear and two Asian pear trees.  My husband has grafted several varieties of each kind of fruit on each tree, so that in a few years we will have over twelve variations from just four or five trees.
  • Red buds.  We have several varieties of these that came up volunteer which bloom in different waves in the spring.
  • Belgian Oak.  This tree was grown from acorns collected from the Foret des Soignes in Boisfort across from our home when we lived in Brussels.  It is a constant reminder of our years there.
  • Silver Maple.  A small maple came up on its own along the path and we have left it for the time being.  It adds texture and color.
  • American Elm Trees.  Inspired by one we saw near the Place Royale in Brussels, there is a gazebo made of live growing elm trees.  It is ten feet in diameter and provides a private spot near a busy sidewalk.
  • Wild Lilacs.  Along the back of the copse is a border of lilac bushes providing screening from the alley way.

Bark That Unfinished Space!

barkThere has always been one small section between the lilacs and tree gazebo which seemed unfinished.  It is not a trafficked area so weeds and volunteer trees made their home there.  Shaded and moist, it is not conducive to a conventional ground cover.
This year, after cleaning this area out – again, it was time for a change.  I had planned to simply put down a weed preventer and mulch, but then I saw the pile of tree bark.  I began placing the sheets of bark into the area like laying tiles.  It rapidly became a decorative “river” of textured ground cover.   A sort of natural Berber outdoor carpet.
It took this neglected corner from a bother to a thing of beauty.
What do you have laying around you can give new life and purpose this week?  Inspire us by sharing below!

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