Use That Storm Debris for Brush Piles, Smoking

By Arkansas Game and Fish

First posted on 01-17-2013

Yards and roadsides all over Arkansas are littered with trees and branches broken by the heavy snow of Christmas night.

Many city residents have the debris piled at curbside waiting for municipal crews to pick it up. Some private trash haulers won’t touch it. Many more residents, though, have to deal with the cleanup disposal themselves.

Two avenues, in addition to the obvious route of fireplaces, are making bush piles and using hardwood for smoking on grills, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Much of the debris is pine and cedar, neither recommended for use in fireplaces and wood stoves because of resin or creosote they may leave in chimneys and stovepipes.

Pine and cedar do fine as brush piles – on land and in water.

Fishermen know that brush under water attracts aquatic organisms and little fish which in turn attract the larger fish they seek. Crappie especially are associated with brush piles all over the state. A top from a pine or cedar tree or several branches wrapped together with rope and weighted with something like a concrete block form a quick brush pile for a lake. Fishermen should make sure the pile is placed deep enough to be out of boat traffic, even when the lake level is low.

On land, a brush pile in a backyard corner or an out of the way spot on farm or timber land is a benefit to all sorts of wildlife, especially rabbits and songbirds.

Even homes in city subdivisions where manicured lawns are prevalent can take a brush pile. Put in out of sight in the back and watch what comes to it. These brush piles do not have to be large. Two or three small ones will get more use than one big one.

If you don’t have a wood burning facility in your house, a friend or relative may use the debris in your yard if it is hardwood. Cut the hardwood into about 16-inch lengths, the most common size for heating. This length can be anywhere from 12 to 17 inches, maybe 18 inches. Just guess at it. Don’t worry about splitting the wood unless you have pieces larger than 4 inches in diameter.

For grill or cooker smoking use, nearly any nut tree or fruit tree is preferable. Pecan, hickory and oak are Arkansas favorites. Broken peach, apple, cherry, even Bradford pear trees do well for patio smoking.

Some outdoor cooks like the wood in small pieces or chips. Others use it 12 inches or so long. The wood is soaked in water then put to use, most often on one end of a covered cooker with meat and other food on the other end.

If you are not a patio cook, cut up the hardwood then make a phone call. A griller will likely show up at your place quickly.