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More About Lawsons Cypress - by Ben Gaia

Great Weatherboards

After fifteen years cladding my house, these one-time Wattyl-stained Lawson cypress timber weatherboards are still as good as the day they were nailed on. As you can tell they are rough sawn weatherboards from unpruned wood. As with most timbers of this type, only the heartwood is durable to this extent. I had to show you my wall, as I am very happy with it. This tree has huge potential in the future for pruned clears, as currently it is only available from old unpruned farm trees with knots. The heartwood is recorded as being durable up to 200 years although this is not yet recognised in the NZ building code. It has a long lasting insect repellent scent and can be made into clothes storage to protect clothes from moths.

Lawson weatherboards 15yrs old

Here is a young tree, pruned to 4 metres, planted nineteen years ago on West Coast sand, sheltered by eucalypts, growing straight and happy in all weathers. It's true I have lost a few of these to drought; and others have grown with funny shaped trunks. But those ones will all make nice smelling fire wood when thinned out, and every second tree planted has turned out a straight, healthy winner like this one. It is not as fast growing as macrocarpa or pine, but comparable to redwood in growth rate, so I would estimate a fifty year timescale to produce a decent heartwood log.

19 year old pruned Lawson cypress on sand near Hokitika

Moisture is Vital

Lawson cypress is from the Pacific North West Coast of Oregon, so it likes wet and misty climates - so west of the Divide they do best or above 600 metres in the East. Long dry summers will kill them off . They grow well in combination with other cypresses, for example, planted after year one as blanking trees if one of your Lusitanicas gives up and dies. Also, they enjoy the company of broadleaf trees such as oaks and alders, whose fertile leaf fall will help them with extra minerals and soil moisture retention. They are perfect for a mixed species timber stand in your forest block. Lawson cypress is a real Kiwi icon having been planted widely since 1860 all over Aotearoa, and commercially grown here since 1883.

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