Conveniently Green: Artist Forges New Life For Downed Trees


WTAE Posted this story

Wilkinsburg Business Makes Sure Downed Trees Don’t Go To Waste

WILKINSBURG, Pa. — Rotting trees that need to be cut down often end up in landfills. But one Wilkinsburg artist wants to lead the way to a more eco-friendly alternative.

John Metzler of Urban Tree Forge said he wants to breathe new life into fallen trees.

“Every time you open it up, you are revealing the tree’s life — what it has and what it has experienced in its life,” Metzler said. “It’s one of the things that makes the city trees so amazing, is that they have endured so much living a city life. Living on a city street like this, the pollution levels, the cars hitting them all the time and all those scars and things, they add character.”

With rotted bases and branches posing a danger to power lines above and cars below, a number of the trees lining Braddock Avenue in Wilkinsburg have to come down.

“These trees here have to be about 80 years old. So steel was king when they were babies,” Metzler said.

But the trees’ story won’t end with a chain saw. Instead of being dumped in a landfill, they will be given new purpose by Metzler.

“It’s beautiful raw material and the idea is you just do not waste this,” said Joan King of Wilkinsburg Shade Tree.

As part of a pilot program, Wilkinsburg is partnering with Metzler and Joe Suto’s company, Lumberjack Tree Service, to ensure the borough’s trees will no longer go to waste.

Instead the trees will be brought to Metzler’s Washington Boulevard studio, where resident artists work to repurpose the wood. Some of the wood will be used for custom furniture. Other pieces will be turned into art.

“We just saw the potential within the way this thing was formed,” said Metzler as he showed Channel 4 Action News’ Kelly Frey some of the projects.

Eighty percent of the trees will be reused, with the proceeds from sales going back into the borough’s forestry program.

The rest of the wood will be ground into mulch.

For more information about the program, visit


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