Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What species of wood do you offer? Is one species better than the others?

We offer several standard and specialty conifer (softwood) species: SPF, white and red pine, eastern hemlock, and tamarack larch. Each of our species has particular characteristics and is best suited to particular applications.

SPF (meaning spruce/pine/fir) is the Maritime lumber industry standard. It is found in all building supply stores, is the best for general construction work, and is the least expensive lumber available. When grade-stamped, SPF can be used in all construction projects. Nova Tree’s rough, unstamped SPF will give you 30% to 40% more wood for your dollar. It can be used in barns, sheds, and any other construction not requiring grade-stamped lumber.

White and red pine is ideal for finish work and furniture construction. It accepts fasteners better than spruce and can be dressed and/or sanded to a smoother, more splinter-free finish. It also absorbs preservative chemicals more readily and more deeply than spruce, eastern hemlock, or tamarack larch. As a result, pressure treated white and red pine can outlast other pressure treated species, which may eventually rot out from untreated wood at their centres.

Eastern hemlock is more dense, stable, and durable than other softwoods in Eastern Canada. Its high tannin content produces lumber that is naturally rot-resistant compared to spruce and pine as well as naturally resistant to insect attack. It has historically been used in the construction of barns and log homes and is now used in decks, bridges, fences, raised garden beds, and other landscaping structures. When used for decking, it is prone to splintering. It is available in bigger dimensions than tamarack larch, however, so it is often used in framing and timber wall construction.

Tamarack larch is North America’s densest softwood. Its high resin content produces lumber with natural rot-resistance equal to or greater than hemlock, contributing to its historical use in ships, wharves, piers, bridges, and fence posts. If not used right away, tamarack lumber is prone to warping, but that can be prevented through careful handling and storing. It finishes well, rarely splinters, and presents an attractive striped pattern ranging in colour from yellow-brown to whitish.

Do you accept drop-offs of brush and other wood waste?

Yes! You can drop off unwanted brush and other clean tree and wood material (including branches, tree trunks, whole small trees, old firewood, or clean lumber) at our Glenholme location during regular business hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 5:30 pm, and (from April through July) Saturday, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.

However, we cannot accept the following materials for drop-off: tree stumps, yard waste (leaves and grass clippings), lumber with nails or screws, painted or treated lumber, or plywood.


Do you sell retail?

Yes! We sell to anyone and everyone. We also offer discounts on orders over $5000.

What sizes do you carry?

While we carry some inventory in common sizes (2×4, 2×6, 1×6, 4×4, etc.), our mid-sized sawmill allows us to produce lumber in any size you want.

Do I have to order ahead? If so, how long will it take to prepare my order?

Although we can fill some orders completely from stock, most orders require custom production. During late autumn and winter, custom orders are usually filled in 1 – 3 days. During spring and early summer, we recommend ordering 4 – 5 weeks in advance.

Is your lumber rough or dressed?

We supply both rough and dressed lumber.

Rough lumber (coming directly from the sawmill or bandsaw) is available in dimensions from ⅜”x1” up to 16”x16” in and lengths up to 26’. We can dress (that is, plane) any size lumber that we sawplus pieces up to 20”x20”.

How is lumber measured?

Lumber dimensions are always written in the same order: T x W x L, or thickness (in inches) by width (in inches) by length (in feet). Therefore, a 2x4x8 is 2 inches thick, 4 inches wide, and 8 feet long.

When measuring the volume of an order of lumber, the common unit of measurement is the bfm (board foot measure). The formula to find BFM is T” x W” x L’ ÷ 12. Therefore, a 2x4x8 equals 5.333 bfm.

The bfm unit may also be referred to as fbm (“foot, board measure”).

What is the difference between 'actual' and 'nominal' lumber dimensions?

“Actual” dimensions are used to describe rough lumber (coming directly from the sawmill or bandsaw). A rough 2″x4″x8′ will normally measure within ⅛” of each declared dimension. It is an actual 2″x4″x8′.

“Nominal” dimensions are used to describe dressed/planed lumber and refer to the size of lumber before it was dressed. Standard practice when planing is to reduce the lumber by ½” in width and height. Therefore, a dressed 2″x4″x8′ actually measures 1.5”x3.5”x8’. It is a nominal 2″x4″x8′.

Landscaping Mulch

Why should I use landscaping mulch?

Properly applied mulch provides many natural benefits for plants and for their gardener.

Mulch keeps roots insulated and healthy so that your plants can thrive. Mimicking the effects of a natural forest floor, mulch works all year round to regulate soil temperature and prevent soil compaction, soil erosion, and nutrient-leaching.

Mulch gives you more time to enjoy your garden. By acting as a barrier to weed growth and moisture evaporation, mulch preserves soil nutrients and reduces the need for frequent weeding, watering, and other maintenance.

Mulch looks beautiful. Available in a variety of earthy browns, blacks, and reds, mulch complements the healthy green of foliage, offsets the brighter hues of flowers, and gives your garden a finished, professional look.

What is the best kind of mulch to use?

There are two main types of landscaping mulch.

Natural aged bark mulch, composed of partially composted tree bark, is a healthy choice for many gardens. It is entirely natural (containing no additives) and will continue to decompose (adding rich nutrients to your soil) while providing all the benefits of mulch.

Coloured mulch can produce a stronger weed barrier and more eye-catching landscaping effects. Composed of consistently-sized softwood chips, this mulch is dyed with environmentally safe, water-based colorants. The wood fibres are colourfast once dry, and they break down more slowly than aged bark mulch, maintaining their hue for 2 to 3 years. A light raking will circulate the mulch and refresh the colour. We recommend top-dressing each spring (adding a fresh inch or so of mulch) to keep your landscaping looking its best.

How safe and environmentally friendly is coloured mulch?

We use only naturally derived colourants that are safe for plants, people, and animals: charcoal produces a deep black mulch, iron oxide produces an eye-catching red mulch, and balance of the two produces a rich brown mulch. Independent studies of colourant safety (testing a variety of reaction types, from acute oral, skin, and inhalation toxicity to eye and skin irritation) have classified these colourants in the lowest possible level of toxicity (Category IV). In other words, our mulch colourants are as non-toxic as the sugar you put in your coffee. Table salt and baking soda, in fact, have higher levels of toxicity.

Just as importantly, we use no recycled wood in all of our mulches, ensuring they are free from chemical preservatives (such as CCAs), paint traces, and the diseases and pests that can linger in wood fibres of unknown origin. The softwood chips used in our coloured mulch are only locally sourced virgin fibres.

How much mulch do I need for my garden?

The first step is to measure the square footage of the area you want to cover. If your garden beds are oddly shaped or round, you may have to estimate this. Plan to keep your mulch layer 12″ – 18” away from house foundations and 6″ or more away from trunks and stems. Mulch piled up around the bases of trees and plants may capture too much moisture in these areas, making plants vulnerable to disease and fungus.

If you’re applying mulch to your garden bed for the first time, plan to lay it 4″ – 6″ deep. If your garden bed already has mulch, we recommend a top-dressing of 1″ – 2″ to keep your landscaping looking its best.

Once you’ve determined the square footage (length x width) and desired depth, use our mulch calculator or this formula: square footage (length in feet by width in feet) x desired depth (in inches) x 0.0031 = number of cubic yards required

How much mulch do I need?

How do I prepare my garden for mulch?

For good weed control, it is best to weed your garden bed before applying mulch. In areas that are sheltered from the wind and contain trees, shrubs, or perennials, you may also lay landscape fabric before applying mulch.

Plan to keep your mulch layer 12″ – 18” away from house foundations and 6″ or more away from trunks and stems. Mulch piled up around the bases of trees and plants may capture too much moisture in these areas, making plants vulnerable to disease and fungus.

If you’re applying mulch to your garden bed for the first time, plan to lay it 4″ – 6″ deep. If your garden bed already has mulch, we recommend a top-dressing of 1″ – 2″ to keep your landscaping looking its best.

If you still have unanswered questions, please contact us.
We’re happy to help and will respond as soon as we can.