What Makes Redwood Special?

Great post about Redwood. Content courtesy of Los Gatos Fence Company at http://www.losgatosfence.com/redwood.html:

What Makes Redwood Special:

The cellular structure of Redwood is unique and has made it one of the most desirable wood products for outdoor use, especially suited for decking. Redwood heartwood contains Tannins and is naturally resistant to decay and insects.

  1. No other softwood has the rich beauty, deep red to reddish yellow hues or long-lasting performance of redwood.
  2. In general, all wood acts like a sponge; when it absorbs moisture it swells and when it loses moisture it shrinks. Redwood has thinner cell walls which shrink and swell less than other woods, more stability means redwood is less likely to warp, split, cup or check.
  3. Redwood is a favorite with builders because it is lightweight but strong, easy to saw, nail and drill.
  4. Redwood contains little or no messy pitch or resins.

Fence Boards


Typically Redwood, is available in three grades:


Con Heart: All heartwood grade containing some knots of varying sizes and other slight imperfections. Used for decks, arbors and custom projects.


Con Common: Similar characteristics as Con Heart, but contains mix of heartwood and sapwood. These are the best choice for fence boards.

Construction Common/Deck Common Same general characteristics as Construction Heart, but contains combination of heartwood and sapwood. Unseasoned or seasoned, it can be surfaced or rough. Deck Common is also graded for strength and is available in 2x4 and 2x6 only.Uses Decking, fence boards and other above-ground garden uses that do not require heart woods insect and decay resistance.


Merchantable: Has same characteristics as Con Common but contains sapwood in varying amounts. This economical grade is available unseasoned and can be ordered surfaced or rough. Uses: Fence boards, rails and other above-ground outdoor and garden uses, also sub flooring.


A little about Redwood


I was 14 years old when I first started building Redwood fences. Growing up in  Los Gatos and living close to the Santa Cruz Mountains I spent much of my time hiking and exploring through the Redwood forests, and became fascinated with them. I learned that at one time 30% of California was covered with these giants, and a great portion of the United states extending about the same latitude they now live on our coast, and all the way to New York. Our planets natural cleansing process( warming) for the most part,  was the cause of the decline of these vast forests.


The more I learned about the tallest living organism’s on our planet the worse I felt about using them for fences and decks and so on. I felt that we had no right to kill something that had been living on this planet for centuries. I almost stopped  building fences until I learned some things I am about to share.


These are pictures I took at Henry Cowell Park in Felton,CA. Just a 45 minute drive from the Bay Area.


Old growth or virgin Redwood are trees that were never logged, or before they were logged for the first time. When you hear the term second growth Redwood tree’s means that this tree has been logged once before from a 1st growth or Virgin Redwood. But the interesting thing is that when a Redwood tree is cut the shallow root system under the ground create’s what is called a family circle. Six - seven and even eight new tree’s grow from that one virgin tree using it’s same roots. It is amazing how the Eco cycle works.


Sure logging in the early 20th century destroyed millions of acres of the virgin rain forests.  The worse damage was done logging to rebuild the damage caused from the 1906 earthquake. Thank God environmental groups were created to protect these giants. Logging companies have to plant three tree’s for each one they cut down to mill. They also must follow strict rules that enable the family circles to proliferate. And there are restrictions on many tree’s. In the long and short, our Redwood forest’s are not only protected but actually growing.


Private organizations keep watch and make sure they are protected. The virgin Redwoods should never again be cut for human use. And certain forests should be protected forever to allow for these wonders to reach the thousands of years they can live to be. I belong and donate to three of these organizations. I would suggest you might want to look into the hard work these foundations do to protect our tree’s and our planet which means us. You might want to join after you learn more about them.

Take a ride to Big Basin, or Big Sur and even Henry Cowell Park just a short drive form the Bay Area and experience theses magical giants. You will be in awe!


Thanks for reading!

Troy Emmett



It is estimated that old-growth redwood forest once covered close to 2,000,000 acres  of coastal northern California. 96% of all old-growth redwoods have been logged, and almost half (45%) of the redwoods remaining are found in Redwood National and State Parks. The parks protect 38,982 acres  of old-growth forest almost equally divided between federal 19,640 acre of Redwoods have existed along the coast of northern California for at least 20 million years and are related to tree species that existed 160 million years ago.