Why stack firewood?
Stacking is necessary to dry out wood that is not yet seasoned. If you have green wood that was recently cut, it must be dried to burn efficiently. Ideally, it needs to be stacked outdoors and in the sun if possible. You should never store green wood indoors. This can result in mold because of the moisture coming out of the wood. Another benefit to stacking is getting the wood off the ground so it can dry out faster. It's important to get good air circulation underneath and around your stack. Another great benefit to stacking, it looks nice and orderly compared to a big heap, and is easier to deal with when taking wood to your wood stove or boiler.
Stacked Wood Pile
Where to stack your firewood
Hauling firewood is a heavy reoccurring chore, so you will want to choose a spot that is as close to the burn site as possible. I chose a spot beside my garage that's not too far from my basement doors. If at all possible, its best to keep it covered in some way. This can be done under a roof, or under a tarp. If using some type of covering make sure to keep the sides exposed and only cover the top of the stack. This will allow air to flow around the firewood. If you are stacking next your house or another building, you may want to consider checking the local building and fire codes. In some areas it is recommended or required to be a certain distance away.
How to stack
When stacking, you want to keep it off the ground. Wood that is in contact with the earth will soak up moisture and begin to rot. Stacking on a hard surface like concrete is okay, but you should put down 2×4's underneath to allow air to flow. If stacking on the ground, definitely keep it off the earth. I used pallets that I got for free from a neighbor. I laid 2 pallets end to end, 5 pallets long giving me a stacking area of around 8' by 17'. This size can hold about 4 cords stacked at 4' high.
So to get started, I make what I like to call the end towers. When building the end towers, you need to use split pieces that are straight and smooth. Start with 2 split logs running parallel with each other that sit as flat as possible. You don't want logs that wobble back and forth, which will make your tower uneasy. Next put 2 more split pieces running parallel, opposite to the first 2 on the bottom. You continue this pattern taking care that each piece sits well on the other without too much wobble. This is the most time consuming part, but it is the most important part, because these towers will be holding some of the weight of the stack. You should not go higher than 4' with your stack.
You can add smaller pieces in between the main support logs. I don't like having wasted spaces. Take your time and make a nice stack by trying to fit each piece together nicely. It’s kind of like putting a puzzle together. The better job you do, the more you can fit into a space. If doing multiple stacks, leave a few inches between the rows for good air flow.
As a side note, if you don't have nice straight pieces to make the end towers, you can drive 2 posts into the ground and stack between them. I've even seen wood stacked between two trees, but keep in mind trees sway with heavy winds and could end up toppling your pile over. You could even stack your firewood without the end supports at all, just don't make the ends too vertical or could end up with a firewood avalanche!
Wood Pile Covered with a Tarp
Once the stacking is finished, it is time to cover the stack. I went with a tarp cover for this year. But in the Spring I plan to build a roof connected to my garage. The tarp is okay, but it won’t last much longer than a year, besides a roof will look much better.
This article and pictures were provided by my neighbor Mark, who just installed an extremely efficient wood boiler. Thanks Mark!
~ Phil Williams
Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com. His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.