The most familiar wood on the market for outdoor furniture is Red Cedar, treated Pine, Teak and Oak. But another type of wood available on the market is eucalyptus. Eucalyptus which is native to Australia, Tasmania and nearby islands is a fast growing very hardy plant. It has been harvested for years in its native lands as timber and for fuel; but the trees have been introduced worldwide. In California, San Diego, eucalyptus was introduced as wood for the railways. In China the trees were introduced through reforestation efforts; but were turned to plantations now exceeding 170 million hectares.
So eucalyptus is an abundant wood. But what makes eucalyptus a good option for outdoor furniture is that it is strong, long lasting and as attractive as teak yet less expensive. Also its straight grain, smooth finish and high oil content make it exceptionally durable and weather resistant. Aside from these attributes which make eucalyptus ideal for outdoor furniture, eucalyptus has the following pros.
- Eucalyptus has a fast turnover rate, harvest can be done in 3-5 years.
- Eucalyptus can grow in heavily eroded soil and needs only limited amounts of artificial fertilizer.
- Eucalyptus can be harvested and grown back from the trunk allowing for plantation like planting instead of logging in natural forests.
- Eucalyptus oil is used in medicinal, cleaning, deodorizing and bug repellent products.
- Eucalyptus can be used in paper making, tissues and for fuel.
Some of the problems that might make eucalyptus less sustainable are the following. Firstly – eucalyptus is a heavy water consumer. The trees put a strain on the environment drying up water tables, local streams and ground water. Secondly – not only is eucalyptus invasive everywhere except for its native lands it also provides few environmental services to other species and in some cases the trees hinder them.
So in areas of high rain fall, controlled plantations of eucalyptus can be sustainably grown without causing too much damage to the native environment. But in the meantime if you are on the market for patio furniture eucalyptus is a good and abundant candidate. You can check out some furniture options on Plow and Hearth but they are widely available.