Juniper is an ideal solution for building a wood retaining wall. It is long lasting (30+ years in ground-contact installations), free of chemicals and creosote, and has a beautiful, natural look to it that other types of wood simply cannot offer. Learn more about this wood and the ecosystem restoration projects from which it comes.
Here are some popular styles of juniper retaining walls and the specific lumber dimensions that were used to create them:
Juniper 2x6 stacked and supported with 4x4 vertical posts (photo credit Inner City Farm):
Stacked 6x6 timbers:
Stacked 5x5 timbers paired with decomposed granite:
More ideas for juniper retaining walls can be seen on this Pinterest board.
This home was built to the exacting standards of the Living Building Challenge, which demands that projects use wood that is locally-sourced and is either FSC certified or reclaimed. For the FSC framing lumber and plywood that form the structural bones of the home, and the beautiful Western Red Cedar siding and decking that grace the exterior, McLennan and his builder, Smallwood Construction, partnered with Sustainable Northwest Wood.
On the main floor and for the surrounding fences, the cedar siding is being left in its raw, unfinished state to silver naturally over time. On the second floor, McLennan and his builders used a torch to apply the shou sugi ban technique of charring to the cedar to give it a natural, long-lasting black finish.
Click here to read more news coverage of this exceptional project.
Photos, from top: The courtyard of the home showcases the FSC Western Red Cedar siding; a private courtyard is surrounded in cedar; the architect outside his front door; the home reflected in the estuary nearby.
There's the old adage about the cobbler's children never having shoes...well, recently my family disproved that ancient fable by building our very own Restoration Juniper raised beds. We're quite pleased with the results! We love the organic, wabi sabi look that juniper provides -- and after such an undertaking, we love that we won't need to rebuild them for a very, very long time. Turns out building raised beds is a lot of hard and heavy work!
We used rough 2x6x10 juniper to build beds that are 4' x 6' rectangles, with 4x4 vertical posts to support and secure the beds. We planned our beds to optimize the yield of the lumber with minimal waste.
We went three boards high, so the beds are 18" above ground. Because of their location along the parking strip of our street, we chose this height to protect the beds from the errant noses and raised legs of passing dogs, but lower heights would work just as well in other locations.
To build the beds, we first trimmed all the lumber to the proper uniform lengths. Next, we attached 2x6 members to two 4x4 posts, then did the same for the opposite end of the bed, and then secured those two sides together with more 2x6, as shown in the photo. The beds got very heavy quickly, so we ended up pre-drilling all of our holes and screwing the lumber together (as shown in photo at left), then removing pieces of the 2x6 sides so that we could move and properly position the beds. Then, once the beds were in their final locations, we re-attached all the 2x6 to the sides.
We also added the decorative cap along the top, complete with carefully mitered corners. My husband really wanted this artistic touch because of the beds' location at the front of our home, and we agree that it completes the look nicely.
To secure the lumber on the sides of the beds, we chose black Headlock screws, which provide a decorative touch that we like. For the caps along the top of the beds, we used wood-toned exterior screws to secure the caps on top so they inconspicuously blend into the wood.
Juniper has a lot of elasticity in the wood, so in a few cases we had to flex the wood back into straight lines and then secure it (see photo at right). Once secured, it stays put. Juniper also holds screws exceptionally well, so it isn't apt to warp over time, as other species can.
One of the other surprising qualities of the wood was variations in the thickness and widths. Some boards were up to 1/16" thicker than others. We don't feel that this negatively impacts the look of the beds at all, but it was a surprise when we began assembling them. Because of the way the lumber is milled, this is a feature that should be expected; it could be avoided by using surfaced juniper instead.
Here's the finished product. Now to fill them with a thousand pounds of soil...!
It's so much fun when a builder sees our lumber as a blank slate, an opportunity for creative transformation. This patio was built with our Restoration Juniper 6x6 rough landscaping timbers -- transformed into amazing decking by surfacing the timbers and artfully finishing the edges and joining them together.
This deck, outside Ankeny Tap & Table in SE Portland, was built by Steel Leaf Design. Says Steel Leaf's owner, Stephen Blum, "We hand-routed all the edges to provide that deck board look. Once we finished sanding the tops of the timber decking, we coated the tops with clear Preserva Wood to help hold the color."
"Our client was very open to the idea of using a locally sourced material," says Stephen. "Especially when I talked to him about what juniper's negative-to-positive life cycle is, how much damage it does to the eco-system, and how it has such great durability, for an outdoor building material."
Visit the taproom in person and enjoy your outdoor perch on this bright and innovative patio.
Flooring installers are encouraged to join us on Saturday, April 8 for a hands-on demonstration of proper floor finish application techniques. This demo is free to attend, but registration is required: Click here to learn more about and register for the demo.
Click here for more information about Rubio Monocoat finishes.
As anyone who has ever travelled east of the Cascades knows, juniper is prevalent in Oregon's high desert. Juniper is an ancient species that has been part of our landscape for millennia, but recently it has seen unprecedented population growth, thanks to human interference with the natural fire cycle that used to keep young juniper trees in check.
How much population growth? A lot. Eastern Oregon's juniper has increased from about 1 million acres in the 1930's to more than 6 million acres today.
Juniper's success means additional challenges for the grasses and other plants that compete for space on the desert plains. Not only is there more competition for sunlight, but juniper is a thirsty tree that significantly depletes the groundwater table. The reduction in grasses results in increased erosion, reduced biodiversity, and more difficulty for desert wildlife to find the foraged foods on which they depend for survival.
In an attempt to restore the native grasslands, Eastern Oregon ranchers have for many years cut the trees and burned them, but today Sustainable Northwest and other dedicated groups are working hard to create new markets for the juniper trees to ensure that this useful and beautiful wood is put to use.
This restoration work helps enable the grasslands to recover and helps keep Eastern Oregon sawmills, an important source of jobs in rural communities, generating income for these communities. In general, the trees that are cut and milled as part of this restoration work are smaller, younger trees that have sprouted in the years since our fire restriction policies were formed -- the older, grander trees that predate these policies aren't cut.
Juniper is naturally rot- and decay-resistant, more so than any other native Northwestern species, according to studies by Oregon State University. It also offers a beautiful rustic aesthetic with warm cream, chocolate, and reddish tones. Its durability, combined with its beauty and environmental credentials, make it an excellent choice for decks, garden beds, fencing, and many other uses for homes in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo at top: The Cottonwood Creek watershed near Fossil, OR, used to be rolling hills covered in grasses. Today, many acres of juniper woodlands can be seen from this viewpoint
Photos below: The Crooked River National Grassland was designated in the 1960's; since then, it has sprouted a dense juniper forest. The photo at bottom was taken near Burns and shows many infant juniper trees growing on the plains.
Our FSC White Fir lumber is sourced from Collins forests in Northern California.
Visit Furnish PDX for more photos of this project.
Many old homes, and many new homes being designed in a historic style, make use of Douglas fir for trim, flooring, cabinetry, and other interior finishes. Douglas fir is an iconic wood for period homes and represents an important era in American history.
Douglas fir was a popular choice for homes built in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Its warm amber color tones, distinctive grain patterns, and high strength-to-weight ratio contributed to this popularity. An ample supply of high-quality old growth lumber coming from the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest also contributed: A market was built to capitalize on this prolific native species.
Over time, the market changed and tastes began to evolve toward the modern marvels of the twentieth century. Hardwood flooring was replaced with synthetic carpet; wood trim was covered in vivid enamel paints; and wood countertops and furniture were replaced with patterned, shiny laminates. Today, it can be hard to find the authentic Douglas fir finishes needed to replicate and restore the period homes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Fortunately, Sustainable Northwest Wood offers a wide array of Douglas fir products that can be used for historical preservation, restoration, and replica projects. And in a reflection of contemporary values, all of these products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the good management and sustainable practices of the forests that produce them.
Our Douglas fir products include:
- 3 1/4” CVG (clear vertical grain) Douglas fir flooring, in stock and ready to go
- Mixed grain and CVG plywood for cabinetry and furniture
- CVG fir solid surfaces in butcher block and plank styles
- Mixed grain and CVG lumber ready to be milled into trim, stair treads, decorative beams and mantels, and other interior accents
5-ply Structural 1 plywood, also known as Struc 1, is the best kind of plywood to use for seismic resilience because it is made of Douglas fir throughout the sheet of plywood. This gives Struc 1 plywood more strength than typical plywood, which is made with softer, weaker cores of pine or white fir.
Sustainable Northwest Wood aims to offer high-quality plywood at an excellent price. This is why we stock 5-ply 1/2" Struc 1 CDX plywood -- which is, of course, also FSC Certified and contains no added urea formaldehyde (NAUF).
All of our 1/2" CDX is Struc 1 rated. We've got it in stock and ready to go for your seismic retrofit and other construction projects. Please contact us today for current pricing.
We get this question a lot. All the time. And the short answer is: Not always.
In fact, oftentimes our FSC certified, locally harvested wood products are less expensive than the same non-certified products, sourced from who-knows-where, at nearby Big Box stores.
Case in point: Folks are always surprised at how cost-effective our plywood options are. All of our plywood is FSC certified, locally manufactured, and contains no added urea formaldehyde. We can trace it right back to the mill that makes it and the forest that provides the wood. And because the supply chain is so short, our plywood is often less expensive that the non-certified, mystery-origin plywood at other retailers in the Portland area.
Now with some products, FSC certification will add a bit onto the cost. Most rough estimates generally say between 10% and 20%. This is because the mills that provide FSC dimensional lumber (commodity products like 2x4s and 2x6s) add a certain percentage to cover the costs of the auditing and additional paperwork required to maintain the chain of custody.
So with 2x4s, 2x6s, and other framing lumber, in general most projects should budget a little more to be able to use FSC wood. These products can be combined with less expensive FSC products (such as plywood) to help spread the additional costs out over the budget and minimize or negate any extra costs.
Other FSC items that do not necessarily cost more are our FSC cedar and hardwoods. Because we work directly with local mills, we eliminate the middle men, which works out better for our customers (and helps us ensure that our mills are operating in ways that meet our Triple Bottom Line goals).
Here are some ways that you can minimize any added costs of building with FSC lumber:
- Order in advance. Any time material has to be rushed to a jobsite to meet a tight deadline, there will be added costs for shipping. Especially if it's an unusual item (24' beams or 2x14 lumber, for instance). By getting orders in well ahead of time, shipping can be minimized.
- Design the project to use standard materials. While we are able to offer highly customized dimensions and specialty items for projects, these are going to cost more whether or not they're FSC certified. By designing around standard sizes and planning your project to make use of in-stock items, you can help keep the costs down. Ask for a copy of our price list to see what standard sizes are.
- Explore alternatives. Sometimes using unconventional materials can help reduce overall project costs considerably. For instance, maple is a very beautiful hardwood that is often used for cabinetry, furniture, and other interior finishes -- but alder is a less expensive option with a nearly identical look.